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Laying Off Employees, Palm Coast Is Set to Pay at Least $83,000 for One School Deputy

| August 4, 2010

palm coast city offices

It'll be a little less cramped in Palm Coast's municipal offices, which have been hit by layoffs. (© FlaglerLive)

Little by little, Flagler County Sheriff Don Fleming has been getting out of paying for school resource deputies while getting the school district to pick up larger and larger shares of the cost. That cost has risen year after year, while the number of deputies who actually work in schools has been cut from nine three years ago to five this coming year.

Last year, Palm Coast assumed the cost of one of those deputies for $102,000. It was City Manager Jim Landon’s idea. The city is set to do so again this year, likely for slightly less than $102,000, though the city council has yet to hear about it. As was the case last year, Landon sprang the issue past the last minute: school was already in session, and he portrayed it as a matter of urgency—and fiscal good sense for the city.

Here’s how: Knowing that the school district was strapped for money, Landon approached the school board and the sheriff, proposing to pay for the one deputy. In exchange, Landon wanted all five school deputies—who work just 180 days in schools—to be assigned to Palm Coast streets the rest of the year, even though the school district and the sheriff were paying the full salaries and benefits of four of the five deputies. In essence, while the city was picking up the cost of one deputy in schools, the school district was ending up subsidizing three deputies’ street duties in Palm Coast in non-school hours.

“From my point of view, we’re getting five deputies for the price of one,” Landon told the city council last year. That was true, the flip side being that the school district was getting one deputy for the price of three. The school deputies were not then (nor are they now) part of Palm Coast’s separate contract with the sheriff, who provides law enforcement for the city for $2.6 million. Counting the school deputy the sheriff was paying for, that’s how Landon was able to buy the services of five deputies for the price of one.

Landon presented the issue to the council last year a week into the school-year, “so we’re a little bit behind on this one,” he told council members. It was a tactical move designed ensure as little resistance from council members, who even then were under increasing financial pressure. And there was resistance.

“When I first read this, I was actually against it,” council member Frank Meeker said during that meeting.

“You know something, Mr. Meeker?” fellow-member Mary DiStefano told him, “So was I. But I like getting the five for one. I like those odds.” DiStefano added: “When we start doing our budget for 2011, we really should be evaluating how this is working out.”

The council is doing its budget. It’s also laying off some 15 people. There has been no such evaluation, though Landon is now likely to put one hurriedly together as he plans the same approach he took last year: The item of the Palm Coast school deputy has yet to appear on a council agenda, though the Flagler County School Board approved its portion of the contract Tuesday evening under the assumption that Palm Coast’s signing off was a mere formality. Last year Landon argued that the benefits of the deputy outweighed the costs. But he wasn’t laying off his own staff at the time while picking up another agency’s costs.

And the question Meeker asked then is just as likely to crop up again this year, as it did at the school board: “Should it be coming out of our budget? Or should it be coming out of the sheriff’s budget?”

Tuesday evening, the school board voted 3-2 to approve a $300,000 contract with the sheriff. The vote was much closer than Winnie Oden expected. Oden is the principal at Buddy Taylor Middle School and the school’s liaison with the sheriff. It was closer than board members expected, too—because they weren’t expecting what they saw in the contract, and weren’t happy with what they did see.

“The burden here is not being shared as equally or as fairly as it should be,” board member Colleen Conklin said—and she was one of the three who eventually approved the contract.

The $300,000 pays for only three deputies and seven crossing guards. The seven crossing guards—part-time, low-wage jobs—cost less than $50,000 combined, so the three deputies cost is around $250,000, or $83,000 per deputy. The cost includes each deputy’s benefits, retirement and other associated costs. It does not include overtime, which the district will pay as a supplement at $32 an hour, with a minimum of three hours for every assignment requiring overtime. But it does include a $2,000 supplement each deputy will receive for finishing out the academic year. When the deputy Palm Coast is paying for works overtime hours at school functions, Palm Coast won’t be paying those costs. Nor will the sheriff. The school district will.

Shellenberger was unhappy with the notion of paying for the deputies’ full-year salaries while having their services for less than eight hours a day and just eight months of the year.

The school day at the high schools is six hours and 45 minutes long. Deputies are required to be at school 15 minutes before school starts and for 15 minutes after school ends. So they’re on the school clock for just seven hours and 15 minutes. The rest of them time, they’re on the sheriff’s patrol clock—or, in this case, on Palm Coast’s patrol clock. So even during the 180 days deputies are working for the schools, the deputies will have the equivalent of at least 17 work days on Palm Coast streets—at the district’s expense. That’s in addition to the four months of the year when school is not in session, and the district is subsidizing those deputies’ Palm Coast patrols.

Nevertheless, board members Conklin, Sue Dickinson and Andy Dance approved the contract. Shellenberger and Trevor Tucker were opposed. It’ll be up to the Palm Coast City Council next, probably after school begins later this month.

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29 Responses for “Laying Off Employees, Palm Coast Is Set to Pay at Least $83,000 for One School Deputy”

  1. kmedley says:

    For $83,000, will this school deputy at least acknowledge there are gangs in our schools??

  2. mm says:

    Unfortunately, having a deputy at the middle and high schools is necessary in this day and age. I have worked alongside most of the deputies in the schools for the past 3.5 years and know how much they do in our schools on a regular basis. If the deputies were not in the schools, then deputies from the road would have to respond to every incident at the schools. There are sometimes multiple incidents a day at the school that may need law enforcement involvement. I personally feel that having the deputies on school grounds is a deterrent to crime on campus.

    Also, God forbid we have something like Columbine or any other violent school incident occur on campus. Do we really want to wait for road deputies to respond to a school, try to find the location of the incident and then try to neutralize it. The deputy assigned to the campus is familiar with the layout of the school, the students, and the faculty/staff. This information is invaluable when faced with a crisis.

    It may seem like a lot of money to some, but what price to we put on the lives and safety of our children.

  3. says:

    having law enforcement in our schools was unheard of in the 60’s or 70’s and now we have them in most of our schools and especially in the lower grades and it is coming to the point wher we need more and more. this does not say much about our society and family values. maybe one day we will have the national guard patrolling the schools.

  4. Taxman says:

    Any argument or position that uses public safety as the basis of the argument will win 101 out of 100 times.

    George Bush used a public safety argument to engage in two wars.

    The PC town council used one to install red light cameras that now appear to provide significant profits to the vendors of said systems and leaves the city on the short end.

    Therefore the Sheriff can charge whatever the traffic will bear. And if no one squeaks then he didn’t charge enough.

  5. Dorothea says:

    Having law enforcement in the schools may or may not be necessary, but I don’t see why the Palm Coast as a city should pay. This expenditure should be a contract between the sheriff and the school board, not Palm Coast. Palm Coast already pays $3 million dollars for ‘”extra services” from the sheriff, services that the sheriff is obligated to provide without the three million. Whatever the sheriff wants, the sheriff gets, while city employees get laid off.

  6. ItsMe says:


    Palm Coast will pay because when that deputy is not working in the school Palm Coast wants him.
    And you are wrong about the Sheriffs Office being obligated to provide “extra services” to the city. The Sheriffs Office as with any other law enforcement agency is obligated to provide service to the community it serves as our Sheriff’s Office does. But when the city asks for a little more, the funding has to come from somewhere. The county has cut the budget to the Sheriffs Office as it is don’t expect them (county) to foot the bill for the extra service the city wants.

  7. ItsMe says:


    I have heard numerous times our own Sheriff speaking of narcotics and gang activity having crept its way into our schools. I don’t think anyone has not admitted it.

    Unfortunately when school is out our crime rate goes up. These school resource deputies working the street when school is out is a great idea to me as they are most familiar with the kids who get in trouble.

  8. Dorothea says:

    Itsme, I guess you weren’t at the Palm Coast city council meeting last night when citizens around Ralph Carter Park were complaining about juveniles and crime in and around the park. Seems like the only solution the sheriff’s department could suggest was building a cement wall around the park since the cameras didn’t seem to work. Great for grafitti, but I would not want it a cement wall in my back yard. For 3 million bucks seems like the sheriff could come up with a better solution for the homeowners, like maybe patrolling the park. For 3 million bucks you could hire back the laid off city workers and have them patrol all the city parks and recreation areas and maybe get some results in deterring bad behaviored kids from terrorizing the adjoining neighborhoods.

    All that said, this should be a contract between the school board and the sheriff. Setting a precedent for the city to foot the bill for a school deputy will grow and grow, year after year, budget after budget.

  9. ItsMe says:

    Umm Dorothea …that meeting was Tuesday night and the idea of the cement wall was from a RESIDENT of the area near the park not the Sheriffs Office. Seems you need to pay a little better attention then perhaps you’ll have a better understanding before going on an uneducated rant.

  10. Dorothea says:

    Here’s a recording of the meeting. Yes it was Tuesday night, mia culpa. Itsme, paste this in your browser and listen. It was a deputy who suggested the cement wall. Go to the last quarter of the recording. You may call it a rant, I call it residents pleading for help. With an attitutude like yours I hope you are not in law enforcement, but if you are it goes a long way to understanding why problems continue at Ralph Carter Park.

  11. ItsMe says:

    Umm the deputy was just reiterating what the resident had stated. Again it was a resident who requested a wall be built around the park. There are two other stories on this site about that area. My attitude is one of seeking and knowing the truth rather then picking and choosing what I want to hear or read.
    Perhaps you were not at the meeting yourself?

  12. Dorothea says:

    Anyone with a computer can go to the link above and listen to the prepared statement made by a representative of neighborhood watch from the area around Carter Park so I will not prolong this discussion. The statement is in the last quarter of the recording. As for your attitude, “seeking and knowing the truth”, I don’t think you would know the truth if it bit you. A deputy did not make the statement, therefore could not have reiterated anything.

  13. ItsMe says:

    Hmmm……Maybe you did not listen any further than the resident? Again Dorothea, when skimming the surface you miss alot. If a pelican only skimmed the surface of the ocean it would starve to death. Seems you’re starving for real knowledge of what is occurring and are posting only what suits you. What I heard is there are some small issues with the kids. One report about kids fighting was turned from a mole hill into a mountain as the story went from neighbor to neighbor. One complaint about some plants missing (could have been anyone but we’ll just blame the kids)… and one resident complained about something that happened prior to Palm coast becoming a city. The reas was the complaint about kids cutting through vacant property to get to the park. When the truth bites you Dorothea do you feel it or have you become numb?

  14. Anonymous says:

    It’s hard to believe that the FCS is paying the deputies salaries for the full year. An over twice what most every teacher is getting paid.

  15. MadTeacher says:

    I can not believe that they are getting more money than teachers and $32.00/hr overtime! Teachers work 196 days for a starting salary of $38,201….. I know how many countless hours I work over my contracted hours and weekends I come in……Oh and lets not mention the $2,000 bonus that they get for completing the school year!!! That is more than we (teachers) get in steps (if we even get steps)… and we do not get a bonus for completing the year!

  16. Anonymous says:


    Rather than get all frustrated by the writers view here you can simply find out for yourself about this contract from the school district and get a better understanding of what it’s about. By the way…your starting salary of $38,201 is about $6000.00 more than the starting salary of a deputy.

    I see this site as an equivalent to that of what you may read on the rack at the grocery store while on the checkout line. Some fact some fiction lots of opinion.

  17. Anonymous says:

    and also as a teacher your demeanor is a little concerning. The thought that a deputy could be making more money than you ( I stated above the difference in starting salaries) shouldn’t have you so steamed. Sure teachers have it tough but be easy on the one who deals with them when you no longer can and for less $$.

  18. Dorothea says:

    JW left this comment under another column:

    “Why don’t they try to contract this service out? There are cheaper options for highly trained security companies. A lot of ex-military folks could do the job for much cheaper than that and still be able to handle situations. Then call the expensive sheriff to pick up any offenders. :) What a waste of tax payer dollars.”

    Sounds like a good idea. Didn’t the sheriff replace deputies at the courthouse with a private security company to save money?

  19. ItsMe says:

    Security company in the schools? Sounds like a great idea. When something happens they can call 911 from under a desk.
    You are mistaken If you think a security guard is going to put his hands on any kid to hold them for law enforcement.

    The Sheriff did not replace deputies with security at the courthouse Dorothea. I see deputies there.
    Is it that impossible for anyone on this site to gather correct information? I guess it’s just easier to jump on bandwagons.

  20. Dorothea says:

    Oh itsme. anything to keep the citizen from knowing the truth. I think that a retired war vet can handle an unruly kid and hold the kid until a deputy gets to the school. But if you happen to take a peep at the very overloaded court system and see all the kids clogging up the court schedules for offenses that used to be handled by the principal, dean, or school psychologists, I’m not sure that it is necessary half the time.

    As for misinformation, it’s you I see posting all of it. Good PR for the sheriff, but bad for the citizens who don’t know what is going on. I thought that the people handling the metal detectors and examining brief cases were no longer sheriff’s employees, but a private security firm. Get a grip there Itsme, I was asking a question. I could be wrong, but that’s what I heard. I’m sure you will enlighten me.

  21. ItsMe says:

    Oh Dorothea, the truth is that a security officer and the firm they work for would not be sufficient unless the school is willing to pick up the tab when they are sued for what could be misconstrued as handling a kid the wrong way. Would they be armed as well? What type of ongoing training would they receive?
    What if someone ran into the school with a gun? Will the security guard seek out the gunman?
    Every deputy in the Sheriff’s Office receives training in active shooter scenarios and the schools are used for that training. There are tactics involved. Then there’s the every day stuff that goes on.
    Sorry but if something goes wrong i’d rather have the cops in there that are all on the same page with their training to handle an issue if need be.
    I would guess that you do not have children in school so this really is a non issue for you as far as the safety of the kids is concerned and it is more that you just have a problem with the Sheriff and tyhe Sheriff’s Office.
    You say you see me posting misinformation yet you admit you’re posting what you “heard”.
    I post what I know and see for myself. It’s pretty easy really and you should try it some time.
    And please tell me what offenses are before the court that used to be handled by the dean or school psychologist or principal? I’ll wait…….

  22. over it says:

    Itsme: “The Sheriff did not replace deputies with security at the courthouse Dorothea. I see deputies there. Is it that impossible for anyone on this site to gather correct information?

    It must be impossible, because you are wrong. The Sheriff DID replace the deputies that used to run the scanners and security wands with a private security service. You see deputies in the courthouse, but they aren’t running the scanners.

    “I guess it’s just easier to jump on bandwagons.” Yep. yer right.

  23. Anonymous says:

    over it,
    Really? I had no idea the Sheriff was in the business of hiring private security firms on behalf of the courts. So….who’s wrong?

  24. ItsMe says:

    My post above went Anonymous….Please people, educate yourselves before going on a rant and all you have is guesswork backing what you say.

  25. NOT OUT OF THE WOODS says:


  26. Notsomadteacher says:

    I was very upset when I first posted…. I am going to school go be a teacher and I guess I look at all that is required from teachers. The fact that a deputy is making more is not the issue. They work hard… It is the fact that the school board is willing to spend this much but gives very little help to the teachers and support staff… Money is always an issue when it comes to the school board… Look and the issue of associate teacher and now subs……the police deserve good pay but so do teachers and support staff.

  27. Sal Pilchard says:

    Police State…

  28. Layla Hansen says:

    Palm Coast pays it’s City Manager Jim Landon $168,878.00 and has hired it’s new Sup. of Schools at around the same. Did you know this?

    At a recent council meeting a constituents asked what the City Manager’s salary is. Mayor Netts looked at Mr. Landon and said, “What are you making, Jim?” Wherein, Mr. Landon replied, “Somewhere in the middle of what City Managers are paid in Florida.” Do you see how they conveniently avoided answering the question? He is making more than our Governor and Governors of most states.

  29. jimmythebull says:

    the city mgr. in p.c. makes 218 thousand a year. no politician should make more than the average of the citizens they represent. they should not be making more than our heros , the sheriffs dept, men and women serving our country,emts, fire dept.who risk their lives daily for us.
    severe pay cuts starting at the top throughout the administration and layoffs need to be made. we have far too many chiefs and not enough indians the FBI needs to investigate who gave the city mgr. a salary more than our governor makes.

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