Letter: Why Did Haldane Get an SRO?

Liz Armstrong’s lead piece in your last issue left me none the wiser as to why Haldane Gets SRO as County Seeks to Cut Program Costs. Not the reporter’s fault: none of the responsible parties seem able to articulate a good, compelling reason to bring an armed sheriff’s deputy, the School Resource Officer, onto the Haldane campus for 10 months, at a cost of — will it be $55,000, or $77,110, or? (Never mind, we’ll know when the contract comes in.)

Adding to the befuddlement that seems to be at work all around is the decision of the school district to approve the new SRO and the cost thereof at the same time the Putnam County legislature is agitating for reducing its share of funding for the SRO program, a program which, according to county officials, will be costing more “in the near future.”

But surely, whatever the cost, the added value of having a School Resource Officer on campus will be worth it, no? Haldane Superintendent Diana Bowers says that the SRO is “seen as a support, a confidant,” and is primarily employed “for health and safety reasons.” Oh, like a nurse, or a counselor, or a principal, a teacher, a responsible adult, right? And, according to Dr. Bowers, the new SRO, Paul Piazza, has loads of experience, and knows “what it means to be an SRO.” Well, at a total cost of $90,777, salary and benefits, per annum, that should be a minimum qualification.

And what will Haldane students, teachers, administrators, parents, and taxpayers get for this investment? Again, according to Dr. Bowers, an SRO typically deals with “more day-to-day problems,” like child custody disputes, intruders on school grounds, etc. The Putnam County Sheriff, Donald Smith, says that his deputies assisted Haldane with 287 events over a two-year period. While not all these “events” were drug-related, he didn’t say how many of them were child custody disputes or school intruders.

Fortunately for the reader, reporter Armstrong finally tracked down someone who was willing to talk turkey. County Legislator Dini LoBue says her only interest is the county budget, not the school budget. “If they (schools) want a private police force, it’s up to them, it’s within their discretion. This comes at a very expensive cost…”

James O’Barr

3 thoughts on “Letter: Why Did Haldane Get an SRO?

  1. Mr. O’Barr brings up some excellent points. As we have seen in my district over the years, the supposed “benefits” of these SRO’s does not merit the cost. Also, it seems like everything else when it comes to taxpayer funding- it’s so easy to spend other people’s money. Now the question becomes, once you hire an SRO how do you fire them when and if it’s decided that it’s not worth it? It’s not easy.

  2. I wish this decision had not been made so abruptly. What is this retired policeman with a loaded gun expected to do? Safety reasons? I believe his salary could have been utilized elsewhere in a more creative manner. As I have said before, I am not happy my granddaughter attends a school where an officer walks around with a loaded gun.

  3. I’m actually surprised this is news – I graduated in 2004 from Haldane and we had an SRO for the years I was in high school; I believe his name was Deputy Mooney. I didn’t realize Haldane had done away with his position and thought this was something most schools had.

    Unfortunately, school shootings and violence are very real and maybe having a Deputy trained in responding to emergency situations isn’t such a bad thing! We all know that if a situation arose, the community would be up in arms that the school didn’t do more to protect their children, right?