BURNET — Burnet school campuses will have a new safety fixture beginning March 4.
Spurred on by the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Conn., the Burnet school district and city have teamed up to provide an officer on the district’s campuses for the remainder of the semester.
The interlocal agreement calls for a Burnet police officer on campus a maximum of four hours a day. The district will pay nearly $6,700 for compensation to the department for the officer.
This agreement, however, does not call for a school resource officer for the current academic year, but simply a “police presence.”
School officials would like to see the SRO added for the next academic year.
“My hope is that we will be able to add at least one school resource officer, if not two, for the 2013-2014 school year,” Burnet Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Keith McBurnett said. “The agreement with the city for the remainder of this year, though, allows for the police department and the school district to develop an even stronger working relationship in which administrators, teachers and students get accustomed to seeing an officer on campus on a regular basis.”
Burnet City Manager David Vaughn said the agreement gives the city and school district a chance to gain some understanding on having a school resource officer on campus.
“It is something we’re talking about, but we’re nowhere near any finality on (having a full-time SRO next year),” Vaughn said. “There are still a lot of things we have to figure out if we go into a full-time arrangement on a full-time position.”
McBurnett said the officer, for the time being, will serve three main roles: law enforcement presence, law-related counselor and law-related educator.
McBurnett said if the district and city reach an agreement for a school resource officer next year, the position will offer more to the district’s campuses than law-enforcement services. The Burnet SRO also will be charged with preventing juvenile delinquency, ensuring district staff safety by being present during searches, attending school functions, building relationships with the school’s staff and interacting with students as a positive role model.
“Having school resource officers on campus provides a positive law-enforcement presence in the school community and allows students to begin to see law enforcement as a resource and positive factor in the community,” McBurnett said. “I believe that school resource officers play a significant role in maintaining a safe school environment, reducing crime, drug abuse and violence.”