Milford wants to add school resource officer position

MILFORD – For a number of years there was a police officer assigned to work in the Milford schools, but around 2010, funding for the position was cut from the district budget.

After the massacre at a Connecticut school last December, local officials took a closer look at security, and this year, panic buttons were installed in all the schools and a buzz-in door was added to the rear of the high school.

Now, the proposed budget for 2014-15 includes another major security item: $63,000 for salary and benefits for a school officer, with district funding covering the officer’s pay for the school year and the police department budget picking up the wage for the summer months.

At a meeting of the town Advisory Budget Committee on Nov. 20, Milford Police Chief Michael Viola and his two captains told the committee a resource officer will help create a safer environment.

An officer in the schools is “incredibly important,” Capt. Chris Nervik told committee members. The officer will mostly work in the middle and high school and will go to the lower grades to build a positive relationship with the children, he said.

Superintendent of Schools Bob Suprenant said in a phone interview that there have been many discussions about a resource officer again and “principals and (other) administrators are solidly behind it.”

The school budget for 2014-15 is still in its early stages of preparation, and as of press time it did not include the teachers’ contract now being negotiated.

A new School Board contract with the district’s Administrators’ Group, which includes principals and assistant principals, calls for a 5.75 percent increase over four years, with no cost-of-living increase in next year’s budget.

Suprenant presented a proposed budget to the School Board on Nov. 4. Along with the resource officer, he is recommending more information technology infrastructure and personnel.

Teachers are increasingly using technology as a learning tool, he said.

In line with the School Board’s goal of providing more opportunities for advanced students, there is a $20,142 item for four new Advanced Placement classes at the high school.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or at kcleveland@cabinet.com.