Schools Look into Own Officers; Not Using the Police in Schools May Save Duval More Than $1 Million

Article excerpt

Byline: TOPHER SANDERS

Duval County Public Schools could conservatively save $1.1 million a year by staffing the district's school resource officer program exclusively with its own officers, according to figures presented to the School Board on Tuesday.

No decisions were made and a fully developed plan hasn't been completed, but board members learned how they could build their own force to replace Jacksonville Sheriff's Office personnel.

Nothing would change for the upcoming school year, but a phased-in conversion to a district-run resource officer program could begin as early as next summer if the board approved the change.

It would take four to six years for the district to fully make the conversion. The conversion could begin with the hiring of nine officers, according to plans presented Tuesday.

Board members bristled last month when they learned that ballooning pension costs increased their contract with the Sheriff's Office by about $400,000, to $4.2 million. The district has seen its cost for officers increase by about $1 million over the last two years.

"I don't like us being in a situation where we cannot control our economic climate and you cannot control whatever arrangement the city has" with the Sheriff's Office, board member Brenda Priestly Jackson said during Tuesday's workshop.

On average, the district will initially lose about $13,000 on each resource officer it hires to replace a police officer because of up-front vehicle and equipment expenses. …