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Council eyes school police plan

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The number of officers in Toledo schools, like Russell Burke in Leverette Junior High, at right, will increase to 12 from its current 11 under the agreement now before council. Toledo has 14 junior and senior high schools.

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With a successful levy behind it, the Toledo school district now has the money to pay what the city wants for stationing police officers in secondary schools, and city council is ready to accept the cash.

Legislation will be before council tomorrow for the city to enter into an agreement with the schools to station officers in a dozen schools for $280,326.80 for the current school year.

The amount represents half the salaries of the officers stationed in the schools, police Capt. James Matthews said.

In exchange for the 50 percent payment, the police will increase the number of officers in the schools from 11 to 12 this month, Chief Mike Navarre said. The district has 14 high schools and junior highs.

The additional officer will be assigned to DeVeaux Junior High in West Toledo, at the request of the school's principal, Chief Navarre said.

Councilman Art Jones criticized Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's administration last month for seeking the 50 percent cost from Toledo Public Schools after the district struggled for two years to pass an operating levy. Voters approved a 6.5-mill operating levy in November.

Mr. Jones also said he believes one officer should be in each of the 14 buildings.

In 1999, the mayor and former board of education President Terry Glazer agreed that the city would not insist on the 50 percent payment while the schools were struggling financially, but would settle for 38 percent of the officers' costs. Under the agreement, once the school system passed a levy, the city would ask for the 50 percent amount.

The schools used a federal grant to pay the city the 38 percent, about $200,000. Superintendent Eugene Sanders said the officers' salaries this year also will be paid with a federal grant.

“We are fortunate in that way, in that we didn't have to use funds from the general fund,” Dr. Sanders said. “We were asked to pay the 50 percent. We thought that was a fair and appropriate percentage.

“We are interested in maintaining a safe environment for all our students, and the officers play a critical role in that. We are pleased with the officers' performance and the job that they do,” he said.

The Washington Local school district, which has three secondary schools in Toledo, pays 50 percent of the cost of the two officers assigned to its buildings.

Mr. Jones said council is expected to adopt the legislation, but he hopes the next administration will consider not charging the schools so much.

The councilman said he will work with the police to try to identify additional grant money the department could pursue to help pay for two more officers so each school building would have one.

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