CLEARFIELD – Dr. John W. Zesiger, Moshannon Valley School District superintendent, was present at Tuesday’s Clearfield County Commissioners’ meeting to discuss if there was still a possibility of having a sheriff’s deputy serve as a school resource officer.
“The safety of students is paramount,” Zesiger said, “… and I know the commissioners support that.” He added the district recently had an actor forcibly enter its high school and steal its student driver car.
He said there had been previous discussions of forming an agreement that would provide a sheriff’s deputy for the district’s schools in order to bolster security, and he wanted to revisit the matter.
Zesiger said he was aware the commissioners had some concern with the proposed agreement, but Solicitor Kim Kesner had suggested the two entities work toward a compromise back in September.
He said on behalf of his school board, he was there to find out if it was a dead issue or if discussions could continue. Commissioner John A. Sobel, chairman, said they are always willing to talk, but there was some concern regarding insurance coverage.
He said the county would be willing to insure the deputy any time he/she fulfilled normal sheriff’s office functions, such as the service of warrants and transport of prisoners.
However, he said the Moshannon Valley School District had proposed for the county to fully insure the deputy, including while he/she would be working in his/her primary capacity as the SRO.
Zesiger said the district needed to move forward in some direction and Sobel suggested it could perhaps explore other alternatives while the county and district worked toward an arrangement for the future.
Commissioner Tony Scotto reminded Zesiger that providing school security is not a function of a sheriff’s deputy, and therefore, the county shouldn’t have that liability.
“Because of the ambiguity of the language in the [proposed] agreement from your attorney, we weren’t going to be protected on our end,” Scotto explained.
At the close of discussion, the commissioners said they would have an official letter sent to the school district, stating their position and concern so that it wasn’t left in “limbo.”
Community Development Specialist Lisa Kovalick advised Zesiger that safer schools grants were available to allow districts to fund SROs.
Zesiger explained that such grants stipulated the SROs be from local police agencies, and the Moshannon Valley School District is covered by the Clearfield-based state police.
Following the meeting, the commissioners explained the district would be responsible for the SRO’s full-time salary under the current proposal, and they would be creating the position specifically for the district.
Scotto said the county doesn’t want to incur any costs for the SRO position in its budget, adding after positions are created, they are really difficult to get rid of. Also, he said they must consider what would happen if funds dry up.
In other business, the commissioners:
- approved requesting proposals for a Tax Anticipation Note for approximately $3- to $3.5-million for the beginning of 2019. A TAN is a short-term debt security issued by a municipal government to finance an immediate project that will be repaid with future tax collections.
- approved the 2018 Community Development Block Grant application at the request of Kovalick. She said that the county’s CDBG allocation is $261,776 and of that, $214,657 will assist Curwensville Borough with street improvements in the business district. The total estimated project cost is $253,000. Kovalick said Clearfield Borough’s allocation is $109,783 and it will use $90,023 for its Stinky Run flood control project; the total estimated cost for this project is $1,836,000. Finally, Kovalick said Lawrence Township’s allocation is $123,996 and it will use $101,586 for storm sewer and street improvements in the Kerr area; the total estimated cost for the project is $239,930.
- approved the Clearfield County Fair Housing resolution at the request of Kovalick.
- approved a lease agreement between the county and Cen-Clear Child Services for a Penn Township polling location. It will be effective beginning in 2019; voters will vote at the Hepburnia United Methodist Church for the upcoming Nov. 6 election.
- announced vacancies on the following boards: Clearfield Jefferson Airport Authority (1); County Planning Commission (2); County Solid Waste Authority (2); and Curwensville Lake Authority (1). Anyone with interest is asked to contact the commissioners’ office.
- proclaimed November as National Adoption Month at the request of Shannon Kelly, adoption/foster care program manager at the Children’s Aid Society.
- approved the new hires of Tyler Bender, part-time Telecommunicator/911, effective Oct. 1; Tanya Bauman, Caseworker/Children & Youth Services, effective Oct. 15; Matthew Savard, part-time Telecommunicator/911, effective Oct. 17; and Alex George, Caseworker/CYS, effective Oct. 22.
- approved the separations/retirements of Tyler Bender, part-time Telecommunicator/911, effective Oct. 9 and Shannon Walborn, Casework Supervisor/CYS, effective Oct. 26, plus two employee leaves.
- approved payment of the bills as presented by the Controller’s Office.