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Tilton, WRSD reach agreement on SRO's salary

October 05, 2011
TILTON — Winnisquam Regional School District Superintendent Dr. Tammy Davis and school board Chairman Michael Gagne met with Tilton selectmen last week to address a changes in a new contract for a school resource officer (SRO) at the high school.

The proposed changes would increase the district's portion of the officer's salary by $21,800 — 100 percent of the cost.

With the high school situated in Tilton, the town realized there was an unfair burden on Tilton taxpayers, who were paying 35 percent of the officer's salary in town taxes, and also contributing to the school district's portion of the salary through school taxes, which are divided among taxpayers in Tilton, Northfield and Sanbornton.

Gagne said he understood the select board's position, but went on to explain that the district's budget cycle for the 2011-12 school year was already underway, and the district had not planned on any increased costs for an SRO.

"Our initial reaction was what do we do to control this cost. One way was to look at other options, but that really isn't our preferred solution because we like working with Tilton and the Tilton Police Department," Gagne said.

Selectman Katherine Dawson, who worked through the summer on the new contract, said she understood the need for an officer on site, but the new numbers presented to the board were derived in good faith, and were felt to be fair to all.

Select board Chairman Pat Consentino said Tilton never intended an SRO to cost its taxpayers any more money, but over the past few years, it was noticed that this was indeed the case. She said while the town had intended to bring the matter before the district last year, it was only presented to the district as a percentage issue, and therefore, the select board took it upon themselves to re-examine the contract and define the duties and salaries of the SRO.

Davis said with a budget already in place, it would be impossible to find the additional $21,800 being requested by Tilton, and she hoped it could be delayed until the next school year.

Dawson reminded her that police contracts call for a pay raise next year, therefore slightly raising the salary for an SRO even more, but Davis said the district would at least have time to work the requested increase into the 2012-13 budget.

Another matter Dawson brought forward was the schedule of the SRO, which does not allow the officer time to write incident reports and other paperwork involved if a student is charged with an offense.

"He needs time in that eight hour day for his weekly reports. I'm sure you don't want to generate any overtime for him," Dawson said.

Davis assured her that time could be made for such work to be completed within the regular work week.

A motion was made to accept the district's request to delay an increase in its portion of the SRO salary until the 2012-13 school year, when a new budget could include the added cost. Consentino asked board members to hold off on a vote until later in the meeting.

"I want some time to think about this. It's a little more to digest, and I want to make sure we've explored all the options for our taxpayers," she said.

The motion was withdrawn and brought forward again later in the evening. After further discussion, the board unanimously agreed to maintain the current contract and hold off on the increase to the district until next year, at which time WRSD will become responsible for 100 percent of the SRO salary.

Salmon Press
Martin Lord Osman
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