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All Flagler Elementary Schools Will Have School Cops This Year, Even as SRD Total Won’t Change

| July 17, 2014

The Flagler school board approved a $281,000 contract with the Sheriff's Office to spread six deputies between the district's 11 schools. (© FlaglerLive)

The Flagler school board approved a $281,000 contract with the Sheriff’s Office to spread six deputies between the district’s 11 schools. (© FlaglerLive)

School cops will be more visible in all Flagler County schools come Aug. 18, when the fall term begins, including, for the first time in about eight years, in all elementary schools. That’ll be the case even though the total number of School Resource Deputies, or SRDs, in the district’s 11 traditional public schools will remain the same: six, one of whom will only be on campus part-time.

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The change will be achieved in part by reducing the SRD presence at Flagler Palm Coast High School to one full-time deputy, and shifting the other full-timer to be a roving deputy, dividing his or her time between Bunnell, Old Kings and Rymfire elementaries. That deputy will maintain a base office at Rymfire. Previously, FPC cops were also responsible for Everest, the alternative school formerly known as Pathways. The alternative school is now closed, freeing that coverage.

The second part of the equation is this: The deputies who used to be assigned to Buddy Taylor and Indian Trails middle schools will still have those assignments. But they will take advantage of the two schools’ walking-distance proximity to elementary schools to divide their time between the middle schools and Wadsworth Elementary in one case, and Belle Terre Elementary in the other.

That way, all five elementary schools will have some cop coverage, though permanent coverage will be available only at FPC and Matanzas High School, with one full-timer assigned to each. FPC will have the additional presence of the SRD unit supervisor—Cpl. Don Apperson—who will be there 50 to 60 percent of the time, when not supervising elsewhere. The county’s two charter schools–Palm Harbor and Imagine School–do not have school cops.

The Flagler County School Board unanimously approved the new arrangement and contract with the Sheriff’s Office Tuesday evening. The contract’s cost to the school district: $280,900, a decrease of $10,000 from the amount paid last year. The amount also covers the cost of eight crossing guards. The money, while still taxpayer dollars, is actually a state grant called Safe Schools, channeled through the local district, so it does not infringe on or displace local dollars assigned to other local needs. The district’s grant pays for four of the six deputies. Palm Coast is paying for one. The Sheriff’s office is picking up the tab for the supervisor. (The city and the sheriff’s office do not pay for any of the crossing guards.)

“I remember when we began with the SRO contract,” board member Colleen Conklin said, “the larger percentage of this contract was covered by the sheriff’s department, and over the years, it’s probably been about four years, the percentage has shifted tremendously, to the school district size of the house.”

She’s right. The contract is not a change from last year, but it’s a significant change from eight years ago, when the district paid just $222,000 for its SRD’s, but for nine full-time deputies, providing coverage in virtually every school at the time. That arrangement had first been developed during Jim Manfre’s first tenure as sheriff, ending in 2005. His successor, Don Fleming, scaled back the number of deputies in schools and increased the cost to the district. Manfre pushed for a return to a deputy in every school when he regained office, but he was not willing to decrease the cost again.

The district went through significant convulsions in 2013, immediately after the Adam Lanza’s massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut (where Lanza’s killing spree including firing 154 bullets from an assault rifle), while rethinking security measures in schools. One plan was to double the size of the school cop contingent and avoid such legally and ethically hazardous situations as one parent paying for an extra cop at one elementary school, out of her own purse. In February 2013, the board approved expanding the presence of school cops to elementary schools, but by posting regular deputies on overtime assignments at the schools, at an additional cost of $84,000.

Making the arrangement permanent with School Resource Deputies trained for the purpose would have cost  between $275,000 and $437,000 a year, in addition to the $280,900 already being paid. The board included that cost as part of its reasoning behind floating a referendum for a slightly higher property tax. The proposal failed emphatically, in part in a voter’s backlash against the SRD proposal. The district then shelved all such plans.


“One of the things that resonated for us this year was the lack of perhaps law enforcement visibility at some of the elementary schools,” said Winnie Oden, the long-time Flagler schools administrator, ex-principal, current transportation director and, all along, the district’s liaison with the SRD contingent. She was speaking to the district Tuesday evening, explaining the new contract. “And I do want to emphasize  as I always do, it’s not the law enforcement component as it relates to enforcing law enforcement, but it’s that modeling, it’s that interaction, it’s that teaching classes, and that has been something that we’ve been struggling with. So how does one accomplishes that without talking about more money and more people? I have to give credit to Commander Cole who said—‘I have an idea.’”

Steve Cole is in charge of the SRD unit. Reorganizing the cops between the schools was his idea.

When School Board member Sue Dickinson objected to the way the contract made it look like “the school district is getting hit with it all,” Cole noted that the complete cost of deputies and crossing guards to the sheriff’s office is closer to $700,000, when such things as training, vehicles gas and other incidentals are included, so the amount charged to the district is not so much the cost of a deputy as the contribution required of the district. Nevertheless, that contribution remains in stark contrast with what the district used to get from the sheriff’s office for far less money, when the district had fewer students, less than a decade ago.

“I certainly would hope,” Conklin said toward the end of the discussion, “and I’ve said it in the past, that we could come to a greater get-back basically to what those originally contracts looked like, where we were sharing some of this responsibility in somewhat of a more equal manner.”

Andy Dance, the board chairman, ended the discussion on a brighter note: “The unique arrangement, getting the officers back in the elementary schools, and the fact that we have an interlocal with the three governmental entities all focused on one goal, which is safe schools, I want to thank them for their contributions and effort in this. As we move forward we just keep tweaking it, and hopefully we can increase our coverage of the schools as we move forward. That would be ideal, at least in my regard.”

The 2014-15 SRD Contract

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29 Responses for “All Flagler Elementary Schools Will Have School Cops This Year, Even as SRD Total Won’t Change”

  1. Seminole Pride says:

    Are the schools getting that violent, or is this precaution because of all the shootings now going on campus ? Or both ? The article did not mention why we have to pay for this additional cost.

    • J. says:

      Actually, the job of the SRO/D (Depending on location will determine title….Officer or in Flagler County’s case, Deputy) is to be a resource for students to use for law information, the SRD is supposed to be a role model, and encourage students to abide by the laws set forth by the State of Florida.

    • Kurt says:

      Ummmmmmmmm, the article does not mention any “additional cost” Seminole Pride…it mentions a “decrease” of 10K per year. I’m sure you knew that though, since you read the article so thoroughly.

    • Nancy N. says:

      Maybe you should actually read the article before commenting? The new contract costs $10,000 less than the old one. There is no “additional cost”. They aren’t increasing the number of officers, just assigning the existing ones to cover multiple schools.

  2. Greg says:

    The Flagler County Administration building has full time private security. (The deputy in the photo is being paid overtime to attend the County Commission Meeting +/- $28.00 to 32.00 hour) depending upon his salary)

    The Flagler County Courthouse as 6 or 7 full time deputies PLUS full time private security at the front door with metal detector and x-ray machines

    Our government officials and our courts insist they be protected….yet, we play Russian roulette with our children and schools.

    Pathetic.

  3. ME says:

    im glad that they are in every school. Its more than just a safety issue, its also another positive role model in the school. Its good to have one already on-scene especially in elementary schools since most of the child custody battles go on at child pick up time. I would be happy to pay a lil more in my taxes to help support this and other education issues all together.

  4. confidential says:

    The schools are not violent…certain students and or outside individuals that may come into schools with the purpose to kill over personal issues like Lanza’s, is what makes up for the law enforcement presence needed in schools. Actually these nowadays total lack of control of GUN Laws and better say the lack of it is what forces us to look for our children protection on school grounds at least. When my kids went to school in the 70’s and 80’s these mass schools and or mall killings by assault weapons were unheard of…afterwards came the conservatives miss interpreting our second amendment to get more votes and here we are enduring shootings caused by mental dysfunctional criminals allowed to buy, carry and use AK47, with total disregard for innocent children and citizens right to life! So if you want a more clear explanation of why we need law enforcement to protect our kids at least in schools try to question the NRA
    and its conservative supportive zealots to stop distorting the real meaning of our Second Amendment and have Congress and Senate go back and put in place the protective Gun Laws we used to have before, other than questioning so much the cost of it, which actually went down this year!

    • Moe Syzlak says:

      “So if you want a more clear explanation of why we need law enforcement to protect our kids at least in schools try to question the NRA and its conservative supportive zealots to stop distorting the real meaning of our Second Amendment and have Congress and Senate go back and put in place the protective Gun Laws we used to have before, other than questioning so much the cost of it, which actually went down this year!”

      Which gun laws would those be?

  5. confidential says:

    Day in and day out we are killed and or gouged by the lobbying in Washington of entities like the NRA and or the Oil Multinationals that thru their nefast/wicked or greedy buy out of our politicians are destroying the lives, economy and very fabric of the USA middle class.
    Since of course again a conservative, http://www.howtotradestocks.org/blog/the-history-of-the-price-of-oil-futures/, President Reagan decided to allow the oil to be traded as a future (1983) in the stock market we have suffered the increases at the pump generated not by consumption and demand but instead, generated by the oil futures contract trades in Wall Street Mercantile and the Brent Crude in the UK that greatly benefit banks and other institutions like Goldman Sachs and undermined our economy, bankrupted airlines and the services provided to its passengers given the increase in aviation fuel gouging prices and our skyrocketing inflation while the likes of Exxon Mobil report all time high earnings. ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brent_Crude.

  6. Gia says:

    Absolutely nonsense as usual. A waist of money. Cop have absolutely no authority in school, if something happen he refer to the sheriff. They got pays to work in the streets.

    • Moe Syzlak says:

      I’m pretty sure that FLAGLER county schools fall in the jurisdiction of FLAGLER which is policed by the FLAGLER county sheriff’s office. Do you see the similarities? They clearly do have authority in the schools. They get paid to enforce the laws and protect the public, even in the schools.

  7. Grand ole Man says:

    I got 3 grandchildren in 2 different schools. I’m very happy to see a police presence in them. Its for the safety of the children and in today’s violent world, a necessary precaution .

  8. Lin says:

    I’m happy to see the deputies looking out for our kids and that their safety is a priority

  9. confidential says:

    Schools are not violent…certain students and or outside individuals that may come into schools with the purpose to kill over personal issues like Lanza’s, is what makes up for the law enforcement presence needed in schools. Actually these nowadays total lack of control of GUN Laws and better say the lack of it is what forces us to look for our children protection on school grounds at least. When my kids went to school in the 70′s and 80′s these mass schools and or mall killings by assault weapons were unheard of…afterwards came the conservatives miss interpreting our second amendment to get more votes and here we are enduring shootings caused by mental dysfunctional criminals allowed to buy, carry and use AK47, with total disregard for innocent children and citizens right to life! So if you want a more clear explanation of why we need law enforcement to protect our kids at least in schools try to question the NRA
    and its conservative supportive zealots to stop distorting the real meaning of our Second Amendment and have Congress and Senate go back and put in place the protective Gun Laws we used to have before, other than questioning so much the cost of it, which actually went down this year!

  10. Anonymous says:

    And what exactly is a rent a cop supposed to do in the school? They should have hired Spiderman instead.

    • Nancy N. says:

      I’m sure the officers of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office school resource division, who are fully qualified sheriff’s deputies, would strongly object to being called rent a cop. Perhaps you’d think twice about calling them that if you saw their badges, weapons, and handcuffs.

  11. Nancy N. says:

    “Its for the safety of the children and in today’s violent world, a necessary precaution .”

    Yeah, sure it increases safety – if the violent incident happens to occur during the few hours a week that the SRO’s will be in the elementary schools. They aren’t going to be in those buildings full time. The school district is trying to have their cake and eat it too by being able to say every building has an SRO without paying for the whole bill, and hoping that the public won’t read the fine print. Is it an election year or what?

    And Gia, I’m offended that you think it is a “waist of money” to keep my kid safe while she attends school.

    • Seminole Pride says:

      @ Nancy. Plain and simple, get rid of those kids who cause trouble, Schools don’t have time to deal with this. When I was growing up in Florida, those that caused problems were sent away.

      • Nancy N. says:

        Do you actually follow news reports of school shootings? Almost every time, the story is about a quiet kid that was never in any trouble before that suddenly goes psycho. School shootings aren’t usually perpetrated by the kid who is in the principal’s office every other day.

        And you are totally ignoring the threat of a shooter from outside the student population of a school. Like Adam Lanza was. Or like the multiple domestic violence shootings that take place in our nation’s classrooms every year. Crazy isn’t limited to K-12.

  12. Karen B. says:

    @Seminole Pride. “those that caused problems were sent away”. Really? What, to an island where they never caused trouble again? After the Newtown incident, it was learned that non-school trouble makers could get in and kill innocent children! One upset parent losing custody of his child could easily take out a classroom and unless we are ready to have loaded handguns in the classrooms, the next best thing at this time is an armed officer on duty.

  13. Reds says:

    The cost to the school board is the same as last year. The $290,000 was last paid for 2011-2012 school year.

  14. Seminole Pride says:

    @ Karen B. Reform School or work farms.

  15. Ray Thorne says:

    Are we really falling for this? How often will they be running school to school? Maybe at first but then it will be less and less as time goes on and im not faulting the deputy.We can expect only so much of one person. An incident happens at one school and they deal with that incident and don’t get to make the rounds that day. This is just another one of those “looks good on paper” ideas.

    • PC Aviator says:

      @Ray: You are absolutely correct. When the deputies at the middle school get a call at an elementary school, the SRD will refer the elementary school principal/Dean to call dispatch to have a road patrol deputy respond. And it may not necessarily be that the middle school SRD is busy with a priority call in the middle school. It will simply be that they are in a parent/student conference, dealing with the theft of a cell phone, a bullying incident, etc. The SRDs can only do so much. Manfre is misleading not only the school board, but more importantly, the parents, students, faculty/staff and school administrators that they will have a higher level of service. The SRDs will not be able to sustain an effective level of service. When/If the SRD gets to provide law related instruction in the elementary schools the teachers will get frustrated when the SRD has to repeatedly cancel classroom time due to an issue at the middle school. Smoke and mirrors–another Manfre standard operating procedure.

      And, in standard fashion, Manfre has to throw Sheriff Fleming under the proverbial bus. Blame the predecessor for all the angst and woes at any given opportunity. Manfre is trying to give the appearance that he is working with government entities–that he is playing nicely which greatly contradicts his past practices during his first tenure. As easy as it would be to place all the blame on Manfre there are other factors to consider.

      SRO/School District contracts statewide are negotiated to have the schools pay for either 100% or a split of usually 75/25 or 80/20. Flagler School District only wants to pay the amount equal to the funds they are receiving from the state for safe schools while they pay administrators and teachers on duty elsewhere (Deans, etc…) higher salaries. The school board CHOOSES to allocate minimal funding to give the appearance they are addressing parent concerns. Manfre has again seized this opportunity to bring his dog and pony show to the media–make it look like he is doing something. If he truly wanted to do something he could reassign the members of the Safe Neighborhood Unit in the schools since they are just another traffic unit at no cost to the schools. This former Crime Suppression Team only works Monday-Friday. But, he can’t as he needs this unit to provide personal traffic enforcement to his neighbors in Grand Haven.

  16. Catherine says:

    @Seminole Pride: Is the reform school you’re referring to The Dozier School for Boys? You may want to do some research on that schools history.

  17. Binkey says:

    Maybe they’ll schedule days to be at a certain site. If an incident that requires attention happens I’m sure there’s a county office person to call and whoever is charge of SROs. Maybe they’ll send a road deputy if a office is at another school. That would be FCSO decision not the schools.

  18. Toni Baker, Candidate for School Board says:

    I believe all the schools need a resource officer, especially our youngest. Just moving them around and “sharing” won’t be what all of us intend when we made that statement. Our Sheriff and our school’s would all love to have full time (not overtime) resource officers. How do we pay for it? I believe the current contract is about as good as we can do with the funds we have unless it becomes a huge priority to everyone. I pray it never takes a tragedy to make that happen.

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