School resource officer contract closer to hire

By MADELINE HUGHES

The Champlain Valley Union School District’s plans to hire its first school resource officer moved along Tuesday when the Shelburne Selectboard reviewed details of the contract that will put a Shelburne police officer in that role.

The contract needs review by the town attorney before the police department will hire the individual.

The school district earlier this month chose the Shelburne Police Department as the law enforcement agency to partner with for the position after it submitted a bid of $85,000 for the contract. That sum would pay the officer’s salary and benefits and for a police cruiser during the school year.

The district also solicited bids from police departments in Hinesburg and Williston.

At Tuesday’s Selectboard meeting, Shelburne Police Officer Bob Lake explained that the department, along with officials at the school district, are working on filling the position.

They presently have an candidate who they have vetted and who they think is best for the job.

“It’s a great idea and something that has been talked about for years at CVU,” Lake said, referring to the high school where the officer will spend the most time.

The officer’s role at Champlain Valley Union High School would be to build relationships with students in order for law enforcement to have a presence in the daily school routine. School officials have said incorporating a resource officer essentially into the staff helps when an emergency or crisis situation arises and that familiar individual is called upon.

School safety has seen heightened attention this year with shootings at schools around the country including Parkland, Fla. in February when 17 students and staff were killed. The incident sparked demonstrations around the nation calling for increased safety measures in schools and tighter gun regulations.

In Vermont, students led walkouts including at CVU; the Legislature passed several gun-related bills and schools were awarded grants to beef up security features this fall.

As envisioned, the officer would also spend time in the district’s K-8 schools interacting with younger students in educational settings.

The Shelburne Police Department wants to hire a veteran law enforcement officer who currently does not work for the department, Lake said.

Under the draft contract the board discussed Tuesday, the resource officer will be armed, and depending on their schedule, the officer will dress either in plain clothes or full uniform.

The contract with the school district will be for two and a half years, Lake said.

The target start date is the first Monday in February after the hiring process is complete and the officer goes through specific training to be a school resource officer.

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