Massena signs deal for school resource officer

A resource officer patrols the halls at Indian River High School. Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — A school resource officer will be patrolling the Massena Central School District’s buildings after board of education members approved an intermunicipal agreement with the village of Massena.

Superintendent Patrick H. Brady said the salary would be in the $38,600 range, which included insurance as well as some additional costs for equipment. He had included the position in his 2022-23 budget, which was approved by the board. The salary was set at $35,000 for the 180 days school is in session. The individual will have an office at J.W. Leary Junior High School.

He previously told the board the agreement was similar to another contract between the district and village. However, Mr. Brady said, village officials were asking the district to pick up some additional costs, such as vehicle liability insurance, and costs for vehicle gas and vehicle maintenance.

“It looks like with salary and those additional costs, we’ve been given a number of $38,600. There may be a little bit more for gas and mileage. The district will be paying for all the cost of it,” he told board members last week.

Board members had questioned the potential for termination of the agreement. Mr. Brady said that language was not included in the agreement.

“There is not a language in there about termination. But, this is an annual agreement and we could look at putting that language in next time,” he said. “If there isn’t a need or the district decides that it does not want the SRO, I’m sure that we could have a conversation with the village about it.”

He said the village’s support was necessary to bring a school resource officer into the district.

“This is a contractual arrangement between the village and the school district. Under the law, we cannot have an SRO without the support of the village of Massena, and they’re taking on this person as allowing us to have this position,”Mr. Brady said.

He said there was community support behind the proposal.

“I’ve heard a lot of support from community members on adding this position back in the district for the health and safety of our staff and students,” he said.

Massena Central and the village previously worked jointly on bringing an SRO back to the district through an annual agreement. The district was seeking an active or retired officer from a local, state or federal police agency to serve as a special patrol officer.

Jody W. Daggett worked from the beginning of the 2019-20 school year until the school closed in March 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, citing potential liability, village officials opted not to renew the contract. Although Mr. Daggett worked in the Massena Central School District, he was a member of the Massena Police Department. The village was responsible for setting up the training of the SRO, overseeing the person’s work and purchasing the equipment that was needed for the job. Salary and benefits were paid for through a Title 4 grant.

Prior to that, the district had another SRO — then-patrolman Patrick J. Serguson, whose salary was paid by both the school and the village. That position was abolished in 2007 because the village and school district no longer had the funding to sustain it.

Village trustees had also approved the intermunicipal agreement. Trustee Francis J. Carvel cast the lone no vote during the village board meeting, citing the potential for liability to the village since the SRO would be a village employee.

Under the resolution passed by trustees, the district would receive the services of an SRO “to promote the goal of ensuring a caring, safe, respectful, and orderly learning environment in its schools as detailed in said Memorandum of Agreement effective July 1, 2022, and ending June 30, 2023.”

However, Mayor Gregory M. Paquin said there wasn’t a July 1 deadline to have a school resource officer in place.

“One thing I really appreciate that Chief Olson (Police Chief Jason M. Olson) had to say is that this person is going to be the right person and not just a person, So, if that means it doesn’t happen until November, it doesn’t happen until November. It’s when they find the right person, and I think that’s the key,” Mr. Paquin said.

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