After beginning the new school year with no school resource officers in the Letcher County school district, one has been hired back.
Letcher County Sheriff Danny Webb on Monday signed a contract with Letcher County Board of Education to provide a school resource officer to be stationed primarily at Letcher County Central High School. The school board will pay all fees associated with the resource officer.
The contract includes a salary for Bert Slone totaling $32,975 plus $11,800 for retirement and $439.14 a month for health insurance.
“The main purpose is to have one at the high school,” said Letcher Schools Supt. Tony Sergent. “Almost a third of our student body is at LCC.”
Of the 3,224 students enrolled in the district, 959 students attend LCC. Slone, who has served as a school resource officer at LCC since the inception of the program nine years ago, was back at the high school on Monday.
At Letcher County Board of Education meeting held July 22, the board approved the hiring of two school resource officers — one male and one female – at a salary of $32,975 each, plus $49.76 a month for part of each officer’s health insurance. The board later learned during a meeting on August 5 that the district had been reimburs- ing the Letcher Fiscal Court $374.55 a month since February for health insurance costs for the school resource officers.
Webb did not sign the contract approved at the July meeting because he said neither the sheriff ’s department nor the fiscal court could afford to pay the health insurance costs. The board decided August 5 that it couldn’t afford to foot the bill for the health insurance either and approved the original contract.
Sergent said he is trying to trim the budget by $1.3 million over the next couple of years.
If two officers were funded, one would be at the high school and the other would focus on truancy issues by conducting home visits and working with the district director of pupil personnel. Sergent said having one less officer would not decrease security at the high school because most of the time only one officer is on campus.
The school district funded three school resource officers — Slone, Valerie Breeding and Wade Adams — during the 2012-2013 school year. The board had intended on rehiring Slone and Breeding for this school year.
Roger Martin, district director of federal and state programs, recommended during the July board meeting that the board fund only one resource officer position.