By MADELINE HUGHES
The Champlain Valley School District’s plans to hire its first school resource officer are moving along now that the Shelburne Selectboard has reviewed details of the contract that will put a Shelburne police officer in that role.
The contract is being reviewed by the town attorney, as directed by the Selectboard at its Nov. 27 meeting.
In October, the school district chose the Shelburne Police Department as the law enforcement agency to partner with for the position after it submitted a bid of $85,000 for the contract. That sum would pay the officer’s salary and benefits and for a police cruiser during the school year.
The district also solicited bids from police departments in Hinesburg and Williston.
At the Nov. 27 Selectboard meeting, Shelburne Police Officer Bob Lake explained that the department, along with officials at the school district, are working on filling the position. They presently have a preferred candidate for the job who they have vetted, he said.
After posting the position internally with little interest, an external candidate approached the department for the position, Police Chief Aaron Noble said. After being interviewed by the department and Champlain Valley Union High School Principal Adam Bunting, the external candidate was chosen.
“A background investigation was conducted,” Noble explained. “The consensus was positive and we are now finalizing the process.”
The officer’s role at Champlain Valley Union High School would be to build relationships with students in order for law enforcement to have a presence in the daily school routine. School officials have said incorporating a resource officer essentially into the staff helps when an emergency or crisis situation arises and that familiar individual is called upon.
“It’s a great idea and something that has been talked about for years at CVU,” Lake said, referring to the high school where the officer will spend the most time.
School safety has seen heightened attention this year with shootings at schools around the country including Parkland, Fla. in February when 17 students and staff were killed. The incident sparked demonstrations around the nation calling for increased safety measures in schools and tighter gun regulations.
In Vermont, students led walkouts including at CVU; the Legislature passed several gun-related bills and schools were awarded grants to beef up security features this fall.
As envisioned, the officer would also spend time in the district’s K-8 schools interacting with younger students in educational settings.
The Shelburne Police Department wants to hire a veteran law enforcement officer who currently does not work for the department, Lake said.
Under the draft contract the Selectboard discussed on Nov. 27, the resource officer will be armed, and will dress either in plain clothes or full uniform depending on the situation.
The contract with the school district will be for two and a half years, Lake said.
He added that the soonest start date for the officer would be in February after the hiring process is complete and the officer goes through specific resource-officer training.