Community input is being sought regarding the future of Tussey Mountain School District’s school resource officer program.
Meetings will be held April 22 at 10 a.m. and at 6 p.m. at the district office to solicit opinions about the district’s program and how it should move forward.
Currently, the program is funded through a grant that was obtained by and administered by Saxton Borough.
The borough obtained the grant and the district first had an officer in the 2016-17 school year. The $60,000 grant was to be for two years but according to Saxton Borough Mayor Alan Smith, the borough did not use all of the money and was able to extend the program for a year.
The borough is not able to apply for the grant again and according to Smith, while the schools were allotted money for school safety, Tussey Mountain is unable to use any of that money for a school resource officer or apply for related grants because it already has an officer.
The district’s board formed a committee that includes board members John Baughman, Brenda Folk and Roy McCabe to look at the options of the program moving forward.
In a press release, the district said that statewide and in the two counties the district is in, resource officers’ jobs differ. The press release added that “it is clear that if the SRO’s position is to continue, the SRO will not only be a district employee, but an integral part of the community.”
The uncertainty of the program leaves the future of current resource officer Dave Buseck uncertain.
Smith said that if the district chooses not to use the borough officer, he is uncertain whether Saxton could maintain three full-time officers. The borough now pays for Buseck’s time during school breaks and summer.
Smith has spoken numerous times of the positive feedback the program has received from staff and community members.
In the release, Baughman said that he believes the district needs a resource officer.
“I would not want to look a parent, who has lost a child, in the eyes and try to explain that their child wasn’t worth the cost of a gallon of regular gas per household. It would cost less than that per year to fund an SRO,” he said.
The meetings will last not longer than two hours, according to the district, and the speaker order will be determined by the order in which those wishing to address the meeting sign in.