Antioch School Board to vote on helping fund up to six police officers on campuses Wednesday night

By Allen Payton

The Antioch School Board will hold a special meeting tonight, Wednesday, August 5, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. to discuss and vote on helping the City of Antioch fund up to six sworn police officers who will serve as School Resource Officers and will work at the middle and high school campuses in the district. The deadline for accepting the grant is August 9, 2020.

The Antioch City Council voted 3-2, last Tuesday night July 28, to accept the $750,000 U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Grant funding over three years, with the condition the school board approve 50% in matching funds. Over 100 members of the public, including students in Antioch schools submitted public comments mostly opposed to the placement of police on school campuses. (See related article)

Two school board members, Crystal Sawyer-White and Ellie Householder, both submitted public comments during the council meeting also opposing the use of police officers on Antioch campuses. So, unless either or both change their minds, the decision to approve will be left up to the other three board members. Sawyer-White only wants police at high school sports events.

According to the district staff report, “If approved by AUSD, the City of Antioch will fund the remaining 50% not covered by grant funding. For the past 10 years, the Antioch Unified School District has been one of the only school districts in far East County without School Resources Officers (SROs).

The average cost to AUSD for each SRO is approximately $63,000. If the Board chooses to move forward with funding 50% of the six approved SROs, the cost to AUSD is approximately $378,000 per year for the first three years. Year four of the grant requires both agencies to pay a larger share (an increase of approximately $41,667 per SRO). However, this will be offset by funding that will carry-over from year one as a result of the time it will take to hire and train the officers.

For the past five school years, the District has hired a private security firm with two officers to serve during the school day. The average cost per year for the past five years is approximately $263,000. If the Board accepts the grant this evening, the funds used to contract with the private security firm to hire two officers will, instead, be utilized for six SROs.

Additionally, approximately $100,000 is currently budgeted within the District’s budget for various security costs that can be reallocated to offset the contribution by AUSD, resulting in minimal, if any, additional contribution from the general fund.

The Board can choose to fund 50% of all six officers at a cost of approximately $378,000 per year or can choose fewer officers at the following costs: 2 officers – $126,000; 3 officers – $189,000; 4 officers – $252,000; or 5 officers – $315,000.

Should the Board approve the cost sharing of SROs, District administration and the City would negotiate an MOU which would include, but not be limited to: parent input into hiring/selection of SROs, flexing of schedules to cover key nighttime events such as sports, etc.”

The school board meeting will be livestreamed and can be viewed on the AUSD YouTube channel.


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