Franklin schools will consider adding a police officer in the high school after more than a decade

For the past several months, there have been discussions between the Warren County Educational Resource Center and Franklin police about assigning a school resource officer at its two learning centers in the city. That discussion was expanded to include possibly having an officer assigned at Franklin High School.

The Franklin Board of Education will consider the proposal at tonight’s meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. at the Hampton Bennett Building, 150 E. Sixth St. In addition to considering the school resource officer partnership, a school safety presentation is also on tonight’s agenda.

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Police Chief Russell Whitman said Franklin used to have a school resource officer program but ended the program due to budget cuts in 2007. Whitman said the WCESC board has already approved the proposal.

Whitman said the plan was to have one officer who would split time for both school entities during the nine-month school year, with the entities covering 75 percent — or 37.5 percent for each school entity — of the costs of the officer’s annual salary, benefits and a cruiser. The officer would work for the city the other three months of the year with the city covering the remaining 25 percent of the costs. That officer would fill in for officers on vacation during the summer months.

Franklin Superintendent Michael Sander said that for the first year, it would cost each of the districts between $47,662 and $55,794. Sander said costs go down in the second year to between $35,994 and $44,126 for the officer’s salary and benefits. He called it “a fair deal.”

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“This includes our share of new car, uniforms and other equipment in addition to the salary and benefits of the officer,” Sander said. “The second year changes per the police contract with the city as far as salary.”

Sander said he saw the value and had a positive experience of having a school resource officer in the building when he was a high school principal in Kentucky. He said having an SRO in the building helps to build trust and relationships with the students as well as preventing problems.

“It was time to re-examine the issue based on recent events in the past few months, ” Sander said. “It (having an SRO) may make all the difference in the world.”

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