School Board greets new year, declines to pay more for resource officers

In this Aug. 21, 2013 file photo, Alachua County Sheriff's Office school resource deputy Philip J. Mauldin, known as Officer PJ, double high-fives Trevor Brooks during lunch at Wiles Elementary School in Gainesville.

Erica Brough/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 8:02 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 8:02 p.m.

The Alachua County School Board burned through back-to-school business at its first regular meeting of the school year Tuesday night before agreeing not to increase the amount paid for school resource officers.

“We’ve had a very smooth and successful start to our school year,” new Schools Superintendent Owen Roberts said.

The new superintendent visited the zoning department on the first day of school, as well as Stephen Foster and Metcalfe elementary schools and Gainesville High.

“What a pleasure that was, to see those boys and girls excited and ready for school,” he said.

Board member Carol Oyenarte attended her final meeting before the Aug. 26 School Board election.

Retired music teacher Rob Hyatt and probation and parole Officer Jancie Vinson are vying for the District 5 seat.

Oyenarte will continue to serve on the board through the first November meeting.

“My number of meetings are numbered,” Oyenarte said, but in the coming weeks she plans to make sure to recognize each district department for its work.

On Tuesday, she thanked Scott Ward, Alex Rella and the rest of the finance department.

“We have a wonderful team who welcomed me four years ago, who have been leaders in this whole system and were always there to answer my questions and give me good advice,” she said.

The board approved a slew of contracts benefiting children enrolled in local Head Start programs, including mental health and dental services, as well as extra training for Head Start instructors.

Also approved: an agreement with the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office for the continued presence of deputies in schools.

The school district has agreed to pay $723,531 toward the salaries of 28 sheriff’s deputies during the 2014-15 school year, plus up to $12,000 for instructional materials and training for school resource officers, as the school deputies are called.

Alachua County Public Schools contributed the same amount during the previous school year, program development director Everett Caudle said.

Last year, the County Commission, which funds the Sheriff’s Office, pressed for more money from the School Board.

The total cost of the school resource officer program is about $2.7 million, but Caudle said the school district is already paying more than the amount the state gave Alachua County Public Schools to fund the program.

“We don’t have the money to do an increase,” he said, so for now, the contract remains the same.

The school district also pays for a portion of the dozen Gainesville Police Department officers who cover schools inside city limits.

GPD’s contract will be voted on next month, although Caudle said it’s also expected to remain the same.

During the 2013-14 school year, Alachua County Public Schools paid $339,349 toward GPD school resource officer salaries, with a $9,900 materials and training allotment.

Contact Erin Jester at 338-3166 or

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