The Byron Union School District will not have a school resource officer on duty at its three campuses during the upcoming school year after the school district was unable to foot the bill.
The full-time position -- which costs about $180,000 -- has been largely funded by the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office through the small Discovery Bay P6 taxing district since 2011, with the caveat that the school district must find room in its budget in the future.
The sheriff's department most recently stepped in to provide stop-gap funding in January that kept a sheriff's deputy in the district through June, but said it was cutting off funding after that.
School resource officers are typically paid for by school districts and by partnerships with local cities, Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho, of Discovery Bay, said.
"The school district has known that funding the SRO is their responsibility primarily," Piepho said. "Each time (funding) has been provided, it is with crystal clear communication that the school district needs to build priorities into their budget to fund this important position."
The school district has put about $50,0000 toward the SRO each of the last three years.
Byron Union Superintendent Debbie Burnette, who has led the district since 2013, characterized the position's elimination as a one-year trial period, with the hope of funding an officer in the 2015-16 school year.
"We're piloting not having the SRO for one year because the funding just wasn't there this year," Burnette said, adding that, "we just have to wait to see what the budget looks like next school year."
The annual budget for the district -- comprised of Discovery Bay and Timber Point elementaries as well as Excelsior Middle School -- is $11 million, Burnette said.
Byron Union first hired an SRO in 2006 with a $500,000 federal grant that paid for most of the cost. Since then, the district has turned to local government for funding.
Burnette said that because of her short tenure in the district she did not know the history of the SRO program, but that she has not heard any negative feedback from residents about this change.
The SRO's $180,000 to $200,000 price tag covers the sheriff's deputy salary, benefits, uniform, squad car and other costs, said Sheriff's Captain Chris Simmons.
Simmons said his department will continue to communicate closely with the campuses and that they will have to rely on existing resources in the area -- including a resident deputy in Discovery Bay.
"We will still maintain our relationship with the school," Simmons said. "Just because there is no SRO doesn't mean we don't keep the school and the area safe." Still, the school district's isolated location on the eastern edge of Contra Costa County, and the relatively light police presence in that area, makes it particularly vulnerable in emergencies.
"There is absolutely no question of the value of having officer on campus during school hours," Supervisor Piepho said.
Richard Kane, chairman of the Discovery Bay P6 advisory board, said that as a parent he is "in complete favor of the SRO program" and would like to see it funded in whatever manner possible -- even if that meant continuing to pull from the P6 funds.
"I've heard nothing but great things about the officer that was there and I wish it continued," Kane said.