Discovery Bay residents received good news Monday night as the P-6 Committee decided to fully fund the $180k per year School Resources Officer (SRO) position for another year at Discovery Bay Elementary School.
According to Committee members I spoke with, this appears to be the last year they dip into funding for the position.
It should be noted that over the past three-years, the P-6 has funded nearly 90% of the School Resource Officer position costs. In the past, it was a shared effort between the P-6, Board of Supervisors, Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, and the School District, but money had run dry.
With stakeholders out of money to contribute to funding the position, the P-6 stepped up in order to give the School District a one year time period to raise funds and find a way to ensure the position becomes self-sustaining.
According to Bob Mankin, a P-6 committee member, they are dipping into reserve funds to pay for the position.
“The committee sees the value of the position but no one has come forward with significant efforts to help us with funding. There just isn’t any extra money out there. The sense I got from fellow committee members last night [Monday] is we all recognize this will be the final year we can do this. It is cutting too deeply into our reserves. But that is only observation, not a statement of policy or consensus,” said Mankin.
When asked why the P-6 did not seek any sort of duel funding agreement form the School District prior to approval, Mankin explained they were left with an “eleventh-hour” decision.
“School District representatives were non-committal throughout the year when queried at P-6 meetings about their ability to assist with funding. We were left with an eleventh hour decision and no available funding assistance from the district,” said Mankin.
Lieutenant Alan Johnson with the Office of the Sherriff was more than happy with the decision to continue the School Resources Officer position for an additional year.
“The Discovery Bay Community, and more specifically the children, will benefit greatly from the leadership shown by the P-6 Committee in funding the School Resource Officer position for another year. In light of the recent tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, the continued presence of School Resource Officer David Allain on local campuses will maintain a higher level of safety for the children and provide peace of mind for parents,” explained Lt. Johnson.
Spaghetti Fundraiser Set For Saturday… but Parcel Tax Needed
On Saturday April 20, the Discovery Bay Sports Bar will be hosting a fundraiser to raise funds for the School Resources Officer and the SEED Foundation. Tickets are set at $25 per plate.
While I support these types of fundraisers which highlight community spirit, they are only effective for so long. Soon burnout will occur and wallets will run dry if you are trying to raise $180,000 over a year’s time from a select group of folks.
With the $500 recently donated by the Lions Club and maybe somewhere between $3,000 to $5,000 coming in from Saturday’s event, they are still miles away from the finish line.
At this point, people would be throwing their money away.
Instead, its time to change direction with a years time to plan. The School Board and its supporters need to get serious about a long-term solution instead of this knee jerk reaction to fund-raise. It’s time to focus on starting the process to begin moving towards a parcel tax to fund the School Resources Officer Program.
If the School Board is unsuccessful with grants, a parcel tax is a nice backup plan. That would ensure the position becomes self-sustainable and you relieve the P-6 Committee, the School Board and the County from funding a position that Discovery Bay parents desperately want.
If Discovery Bay truly wants to continue the services as a whole from the sheriffs office, put it to a vote and see just how important it is to the entire community.
With the amount of parcels in the Town of Discovery Bay, a proposed $30-40 annual tax would likely get it done.
While Monday was a small victory, the battle is not over as this will come up against next year without some serious changes in approach to finding funding. The hand out from P6 appears to be over.