On Tuesday evening, city council will consider how to spend the nearly $ 800,000 that was used to fund the School Resource Officer program.
In early May, the majority of city council members decided in an add / remove budget session to remove $ 789,909 from the budget of the Alexandria Police Department, which specifically funded the SRO program. The program put police officers in public middle and high schools in Alexandria City. In addition to responding to fights and other incidents, the police have made efforts to develop positive relationships with young people in Alexandria.
The money from the SRO program in May has been set aside in a special fund, and the city council is due to vote on how to spend this money after city staff and representatives from several departments speak.
The recommendations listed in a presentation attached to the role of the municipal council of Tuesday July 6 include:
- $ 101,000 for the development of new mentoring programs and the creation of a mentoring institute, in which caring adults from Alexandria will be trained in mental health first aid, asset creation, youth development, prevention of drug and alcohol use and prevention of child abuse.
- $ 122,000 for a public health nurse at the Minnie Howard campus of Alexandria City High School.
- $ 122,422 for a therapist supervisor who will rotate between Minnie Howard and the city colleges, who will serve as a consultant and partner in the development and implementation of alternatives to suspension programs as well as other initiatives based on evidence in addition to several other roles.
- $ 117,199 x 2 for two senior therapists to provide evidence-based early intervention groups and other therapies for students and families.
- $ 98,654 for a human services specialist who will focus on prevention and early invention and more
- Additional funding for a licensed senior therapist who will focus on emergency services.
In late June, at a city council school board subcommittee meeting, city staff made a presentation on the proposed use of funds to provide support services to CSGA students. “CSGA staff and CSGA School Board representatives have indicated that they are receptive to the positions and student services offered by the City and would likely be able to provide on-site housing for occupying staff. these posts. School board representatives said they would like more time over the summer and fall to review these proposals with school board and CSGA administration and teachers to ensure that proposals meet the needs of students in the school system. according to a memo by City Manager Mark Jinks.
In addition, the schools have indicated that they are working on costing and identifying operational and physical changes related to high school building security that they feel they need to make that will have an unbudgeted cost. “
Students return to school buildings on August 24. Most students have been out of school for more than a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and students will be coming off their shortest summer break in years due to a schedule change.
Experts for all proposed positions are unlikely to be hired by the time the students return to school buildings, and CSGA is rushing to provide updated training for its own security guards.
The decision to cut funding for the ORS in early May was, in part, in response to a movement for police-free public schools that gained momentum nationwide amid conversations about racism, fairness and the role of the police in our society. Council members Mo Seifeldein, Canek Aguirre, Elizabeth Bennett-Parker and John Taylor Chapman voted to reallocate funding. (Seifeldein and Bennett-Parker are leaving council after this year.) Council members Amy Jackson, Del Pepper and Mayor Justin Wilson voted to leave the funding in place. The CSGA school board had expressed a desire to keep SROs in schools and some members were surprised when the board voted 4-3 to override the school board’s decision.
“I agree with what is needed. I don’t agree with the way it went ”, Council member Jackson wrote on social media. “Decision of the school board. Not that of the Council. Let the SB run the schools.
Alexandria isn’t the only one reassessing her relationship between police and schools, but she’s the only jurisdiction in Northern Virginia to end the program entirely.
Arlington County is remove ORS from school grounds and by renaming them Youth Resource Agents. Officers will continue to provide educational services. Arlington’s decision came after a year-long conversation between police, school board and community members.
Fairfax County, Falls Town Church, Loudoun County, and Prince William County all have SROs.
To watch the Municipal Council meeting on Tuesday July 6 (from 5 p.m.):
Registration link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_mYxZ__XPRFaZai9qhx_BXAWebinar ID: 976 0202 5815 Webinar Access Code: 656479 Call Number: 301-715-8592
Interested residents can register to speak to: https://survey.alexandriava.gov/s3/2020-VIRTUAL-City-Council-Speakers-Form.