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Schools Pitch Resource Officer Levy

Officials citing safety concerns in wake of Newtown, Conn., massacre

January 29, 2013
By SARAH HARMON Staff Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Bridgeport school officials met with residents Sunday to discuss a 1-mill levy the district placed on the May ballot to fund a permanent resource officer in the district's schools.

Superintendent Ted Downing said if the levy does not pass in May, there will no longer be an armed resource officer in the schools. School officials said they felt it is a decision for the community to make.

"A resource officer isn't cheap, and school funding gets cut all the time. It was an expense we didn't think we could take on. We're always looking for other ways to fund it. Right now, there's nothing coming down from Washington or Columbus to fund a resource officer," he said. "We felt is was up to the community to decide if this was something they want for the school district. It's on the ballot in May. If it fails, we won't have a resource officer next year."

According to Downing, the district already has a resource officer, but the board only plans to fund the officer until the end of the school year due to financial constraints.

The levy is income-based, so the average home in Bridgeport bringing in $75,000 would pay about $20 a year, Downing said. High-income residents would expect to pay about $60 a year.

Downing said the levy would not be permanent and would only provide a resource officer for five years.

"In five years, we'll re-evaluate and maybe funding will come along," he said.

He said the levy could possibly fund other safety measures for the schools, but school officials do not have anything specific in mind yet.

"Bottom line, it's something we wanted the community to have input in. It is something you either want or don't want, but I don't know how you can put a price on something like what happened at Sandy Hook. You never know what could happen," he said.

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