Elementary schools might lose officers
Times are tight for the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. County commissioners have told the sheriff to expect no new positions. And that means no new school resource officers, crossing guards or traffic controllers. To make sure the school district has an officer at every middle and high school, superintendent Heather Fiorentino says, it is likely to pull them out of the elementary schools where four currently are assigned.
If an elementary school needs a deputy, Fiorentino told the Pasco School Board this morning, the schools simply would have to call 911, like everyone else.
Some School Board members wondered where the county's savings would come from, noting that the school district pays the SRO salaries for 180 work days already, while the Sheriff's Office simply covers the rest. Add in a few emergency calls, and suddenly it seems a wash at best. Still, yielding to the sheriff's request, the board postponed action on a new SRO contract until after the County Commission seals the department't budget.
Sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said the department is trying to act frugally. It wants to add more of the officers, and it certainly won't reduce the number. But until it knows where it stands, the Sheriff's Office cannot promise more than it can deliver.
"It's not looking good," Doll told the Gradebook. "We're all hopeful, but we're also realistic."
The Pasco County Commission meets tomorrow to complete its 2007-08 budget.