The Montgomery County Council’s Education Committee and its Public Safety Committee at 9:30 a.m. will meet jointly on Thursday, April 18, for a worksession on increasing the number of School Resource Officers assigned to public schools. The review is part of the Council’s examination of the recommended budget presented by County Executive Isiah Leggett.
In April and May, the Council will review the Executive’s recommended budget as it works toward adopting the FY14 County operating budget in late May. The budget will go into effect on July 1.
The Education Committee, which is chaired by Valerie Ervin and includes Councilmembers Phil Andrews and Craig Rice, and the Public Safety Committee, which is chaired by Councilmember Andrews and includes Councilmembers Roger Berliner and Marc Elrich, will meet in the Seventh Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The meeting will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). The broadcast also will be streamed through the County Web site at www.montgomerycountymd.gov
Beginning with the 2003-04 school year, the County hired 32 new police officers and positioned them in middle and high schools. For the 2010-11 school year, the program had 27 officers (one at each of the 25 County public high schools and one each at Argyle and Martin Luther King middle schools). The sworn officers reported to their assigned school on a daily basis for their entire shift, with the high school officers also providing coverage to middle schools that fed their respective high schools Officers were not specifically assigned to elementary schools, but provided assistance when requested. In addition, six sergeants were assigned to the program in supervisory roles.
Budget pressures in ensuing years led to a severe reduction in the program. The County Executive recommended eliminating all of the officers for the 2011-12 school year, but the Council funded six positions. For the 2012-13 school year, the Police Department also assigned five patrol officers to function as School Resource Officers. The cities of Rockville and Gaithersburg also contributed one officer each to work as SROs, bring the total assigned to schools to 13 for the current school year.
The County Executive’s recommended budget for FY14 would add an additional six SROs.
At 10 a.m. Thursday, the Public Safety Committee will continue its review of the budget request of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service. It also will address the agreement between the County and the Montgomery Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, which represents the interests of volunteer firefighters.
At 2 p.m. in the Third Floor Conference Room, the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee, which is chaired by Councilmember Berliner and includes Councilmembers Nancy Floreen and Hans Riemer, will hold a worksession on the County’s Water Quality Protection Fund. On April 16, the Council unanimously adopted revisions to the program’s fee structure.
At 2 p.m. in the Seventh Floor Hearing Room, the Health and Human Services Committee, which is chaired by Councilmember George Leventhal and includes Councilmembers Nancy Navarro and Craig Rice, will have a worksession on the FY14 budget requests of the Department of Public Libraries and the Office of Human Rights.
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