On Tuesday night, the board of education voted unanimously in favor of a tentative agreement with the Grady County Board of Commissioners for a Choosing Healthy Activities and Methods Promoting Safety or C.H.A.M.P.S. resource officer.
The agreement will now go to the county commission for its approval.
C.H.A.M.P.S. is a program designed by the Georgia Sheriff’s Association and according to Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kermit Gilliard a partnership with the county and Grady County Sheriff Harry Young will allow the school system to employ two school resource officers.
The school system currently partners only with the city of Cairo to employ School Resource Officer Duke Donalson.
“It’s been our desire to have an additional resource officer. We had talked with the city and the county, but had not been able to come up with an agreement. County Administrator Carlos Tobar has been very persistent in working something out. He sees this as an additional officer for the sheriff’s office who could help the county reduce its overtime expense,” Dr. Gilliard said Tuesday night.
According to Gilliard, the new officer, if approved by the county commission, will be based at Washington Middle School, but will spend one hour per week at all county schools that have fifth grade classes.
In addition to serving as a resource officer the new C.H.A.M.P.S. officer would conduct a 12-week program for students about alcohol and drugs, bullying, and Internet safety.
“This officer would be based at Washington, but would be on-call to respond to any school if needed. He or she would not work under the current resource officer, but would answer to the sheriff and the school system,” Dr. Gilliard said.
The annual cost is approximately $26,000, which Gilliard said is based on $18 per hour for eight hours per day for 180 school days.
According to the assistant school superintendent, when the C.H.A.M.P.S. officer is not working for the schools during holidays and in the summer the officer would be available for work at the sheriff’s office.
“Mr. Tobar sees this as potential savings for the county and it is a win-win for us,” Dr. Gilliard said.
Vice Chairman Jeff Worsham asked what was the cost of the system’s agreement with the city for funding of Officer Donalson.
The assistant superintendent said the annual cost is over $50,000 due in large part to the fact that Donalson has been in the position for 20 years and every time a city employee received a raise the school resource officer did so, too.
Dr. Gilliard said under the proposed agreement with the county there is a cap on the amount of money the school system will pay for the officer.
“We have a cap in there so the officer will know they will never make more than this with the school system so that we do not get into the same issues as we have with the city,” Dr. Gilliard said.
School officials said they hope to finalize the agreement so that it can begin with the new school term in August.