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Published: Friday, 3/30/2012

Bedford group surpasses 1st goal to save deputy's job


TEMPERANCE -- The fund-raising campaign to retain a school resource officer in the Bedford Public Schools has achieved its immediate goal of collecting $15,000 by Saturday.

The organizers of the campaign, Amy Driehorst and Regina Whalen, told the Bedford Board of Education Thursday they had collected $17,763.70.

"It feels great. This is a great community and it recognizes the importance of this cause," Mrs. Driehorst said at the school board's committee of the whole meeting.

The money will go toward the $80,000 they want to collect annually for the next three years so the district won't have to reduce spending by eliminating one of the two Monroe County sheriff's deputies assigned to the schools full time.

The two mothers with children in the district decided to start their fund-raiser late last month after the school board approved dropping the deputy as a cost-cutting move to help close a projected operating deficit.

They formed the nonprofit BSP CARES, which stands for Bedford Students Protected through Combining Area Resources for Educational Safety.

The short-term goal was to raise $15,000 by Saturday, the date by which the sheriff's office must be notified if the resource officer was to be eliminated for the next school year. The Bedford Community Foundation is acting as custodian of the funds at no cost.

Mrs. Driehorst and Mrs. Whalen have held fund-raisers and solicited contributions from businesses, groups, and individuals.

Mrs. Whalen said significant donations came in from John C. Bates Foundation/Heidtman Steel Inc., the Parent Teacher Associations at Smith Road Elementary and the junior and senior high schools, Suz Bates Colon and Debra Bates-Shinkle Hunter's Run Stables, the Monroe County Sheriff Deputies Association, Shinkle's Flower Shop and Greenhouse, and others. She did not release amounts.

Starting July 1, the fund-raisers need to make a $20,000 payment at the start of each quarter to retain the deputy. The resource officers, Randy Sehl and Randy Krupp, are extremely popular with parents, students, and school staff, and are credited with preventing fights and bullying, curbing drug abuse, and serving as good role models.

The district, however, must eliminate its operating deficit, and has filed a plan with the Michigan Department of Education outlining its intended cost cuts. Under that plan, Deputy Sehl would be dropped from the schools and return to the sheriff's office rotation, bumping another deputy with lower seniority.

School board member Kim Hooper, a former deputy himself, praised Mrs. Driehorst and Mrs. Whalen for their effort.

"I've never seen such a fund-raiser as this . . . The board said 'We've got to cut this position, and you came to us politely and said, 'I don't think so.' I think it's great," he said.

Contact Carl Ryan at: cryan@theblade.com or 419-724-6183.

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