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City closer to agreement on SRO positions

The city of Sunnyside and the Sunnyside School District are closer to inking a deal to have school resource officers in the schools for the 2011-12 school year.

Last night discussions continued regarding the agreement options presented to the council last month.

Sunnyside Deputy Police Chief Phil Schenk said he has been in discussions with Schools Superintendent Dr. Rick Cole regarding the positions.

The two, he said, have come to conclude that two SROs should continue working in the schools. In the agreement, the city and school district would split the costs down the middle. That cost is approximately $250,000.

Schenk told council the school district has requested the officers' availability be increased from nine months to 12.

"Roughly 36 percent of overtime is non-school related," said Schenk in explaining why the SROs should be assigned on a year-round basis.

He said overtime usually is accounted for because the SROs are at various school events, seeking children reported missing, providing coverage at sports events and providing security at graduation and investigating possible threats.

Cole said his original intent of approaching the council was in the spirit of splitting the cost of the SROs 50/50 because that was the historic approach of funding the officers.

The goal, however, is to reinstate a third SRO with levy funding that Cole said will be asked for during a February 2012 special election.

A final one-year contract for two year-round SROs will be presented to the Sunnyside City Council for approval at the Monday, Aug. 22, council meeting.

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