At its September 18 meeting, the Champlain Valley School District (CVSD) took a step closer to hiring a school resource officer (SRO) for the district.School directors gave the nod for the district to negotiate a contract with the Shelburne Police Department. The contract would cost about $85,000 yearly.

In an interview late last week, Chief Aaron Noble said among the items still left to be agreed on are the officer’s duties and the length of the contract. Shelburne and school district officials are expected to sit down in early October to finalize those details, Noble said. The formal agreement is expected to pay for the officer’s salary and a police car for the school year. The SRO would carry a weapon and wear a uniform and will be identifiable as a police officer.

“We’re still in the process of breaking down numbers,” said Noble. “We’re trying to figure out funding.”

The chief said he hopes to start that process soon and has placed two employment ads on the town website. 

It’s still unknown what the newly minted SRO’s schedule will be when school isn’t in session.

The path to hiring an SRO picked up speed during the summer when CVSD Chief Operations Officer Jeanne Jensen and Champlain Valley Union High School Principal Adam Bunting met with Shelburne, Williston and Hinesburg town officials and police chiefs regarding  law-enforcement services. The Chittenden County Sheriff’s Office joined the talks “late in the game,” Jensen said.“All three towns,” she said, “were interested and willing to step up to the plate,” said Jensen.

Charlotte doesn’t have its own police department and instead contracts with the Vermont State Police for law-enforcement services.

Shelburne’s contract bid came in under Hinesburg’s bid, which included a proposal for officer salary at $58 an hour in addition to $9.50 hourly for a cruiser, according to the minutes from the Sept. 6 Hinesburg Selectboard meeting. “We had long discussions and decided to go with Shelburne,” Jensen added. “We made the decision that Shelburne is the right fit.”

Jensen noted that if an emergency were to occur at CVU, the Hinesburg Police Department would likely be the first to respond since the CVU campus is located there, while Williston offers a restorative justice program. “It makes an interesting circle of support,” said Jensen.

School districts across Vermont have opened their doors to municipal police department resource officers for some time. “If there’s an emergency in school, then we’ll have a police officer,” said Jensen.

Bunting noted during the meeting that the board next month will study a contract that will be signed by the Shelburne Police Department. He said that he anticipates the SRO will be at CVU “85 percent” of the time during the school year. Jensen said the board will likely soon get a look at a draft of the memorandum of understanding between the school district and the Shelburne Police Department.

CVSD Superintendent of Schools Elaine Pinckney noted that community school principals have indicated they would also welcome an SRO into their buildings.