Canton SRO question pushed back to committee

May 6—CANTON — The Canton Central School Board of Education has sent the issue of hiring a school resource officer to the safety committee. The committee was charged with establishing the guidelines and goals for an ad hoc committee to study the issue.

Superintendent Ronald P. Burke came to the meeting with a plan for how the ad hoc committee would be set up. Board member Christina Martin objected to establishing the committee without explicit instructions.

"If we approve this committee to exist, to explore this issue, who will chair this committee and what's the expectation of the committee? I think that needs to be clear," Ms. Martin said. "There were some pretty strong voices here the last time, but that's not the voices of everyone."

Ms. Martin was concerned that the process might be futile, citing a study to add an administrator to the school last year.

"We went all the way through that process and there was no money," she said.

Board member Christopher Marquart said that after going through the budget process in which three positions were eliminated, it would be difficult to justify hiring a full-time employee with full-time benefits. He suggested the best they could do was hire a retired law enforcement officer with no benefits.

"I would like us to explore all options," board member Robert Larrabee said. "We know what we are limited to, but if we form this committee, I would like them to explore all options."

Board member Daniel Thomas objected that the committee be limited to the topic of an SRO.

"There is no evidence that an SRO makes a school more safe. If we are going to create a committee, let's make a committee looks at things that make a school more safe," he said.

Board member Wendy Todd said the topic has come from the boards' constituents and broadening the issue from just the SRO question made sense.

"Board work is done by committees," Ms. Todd said. "If we are going to give this issue the hard look that we believe it needs, we need more than what we can do at these public meetings. And the way that is done is through committees."

After about 40 minutes of discussion, the board agreed to ask the safety committee to hold a meeting before the next board meeting and set up the parameters of an ad hoc committee to address the issue.

The next board meeting is at 7:30 p.m. May 16.