After months of negotiations between the township and school district, the Evesham Township Council has officially approved a shared services agreement with the Evesham Township School District to hire and share four part-time police officers who will be used as school resource officers by the district.
The issue dates back to last fall when Evesham School District Superintendent John Scavelli first publicly announced he was in discussions with the Evesham Police Department to hire what was originally going to be just one officer to share.
However, after the BOE approved the agreement and sent it to the township council last December, council ultimately tabled the issue.
At the time, Evesham township manager Tom Czerniecki and Police Chief Christopher Chew explained the officer would deal with truancy issues, as well as help plan security initiatives in the schools and rotate between schools throughout the day, but Mayor Randy Brown raised concerns.
Brown said he theoretically loved the idea, but wanted more assurances the officer’s time would be documented accurately, and also believed more could be done to hire multiple officers so one was placed in each of the district’s eight school buildings.
Those concerns had Brown lead most of the council in tabling the agreement.
Through further discussions between the school district and township, both parties reached the current agreement of the four officers the township and district will now share.
Brown said he wanted to keep the “when” and “how” of what the officers will be doing as “not public information” as possible, but said it was still his opinion there should be somebody in all of the townships schools every day schools are in session.
“Right now we are at four. It is still my belief that we should be at eight, but I am hopeful, though, with some more negotiations that we can get to eight relatively soon,” Brown said. “I think four is a good start. By no means am I satisfied with four.”
Brown said he implored the school board to find a way to get additional money so it would eventually have eight school resources officers.
“I don’t want to put a date on it yet, but the sooner they can do it the better,” Brown said.
Czerniecki said the details of how the four new officers would be shared and paid was mostly the same as what the school district proposed with just the one original individual officer last fall.
This means the officers will be part-time, level II police officers, with salaries of $26,000 a year with no pension or health benefits.
Officers will work no more than 20 hours a week, and any salary costs and time working will be divided evenly between the school district and township.
Czerniecki said the district also reached out to other districts that used the officers for more than just truancy control, where the officers could become integrated into the administrative staff regarding school security issues.
On the township end of things, Czerniecki said full-time officers occasionally have a presence at some of the township’s recreational activities and facilities, so when the new officers are not at schools, they could be used in similar ways to build up security.