School Resource Officer’s Contract Approved

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Athens County Commissioners approved a new version of the school resource officer contract, which is between Nelsonville-York City Schools and the Athens County Sheriff’s Office. School officials, however, say they must re-evaluate the changes, which include added costs for the district.

The new contract, which requires signatures of the county commissioners, includes a catch-all provision for cost recovery. In essence, it makes the school district responsible for costs that might arise that are not specifically covered by the contract.

“It covers everything we needed,” said Commission President Lenny Eliason during Thursday’s meeting.

“It added too much,” said Sheriff Patrick Kelly.

Kelly said he’s concerned the school district will not be able to approve the latest contract. School Supt. Mick McClelland said he will need to discuss it with the school board. Their next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 11 at 6 p.m.

“They added extra things,” McClelland said on Thursday, referring to the new costs the district will be expected to incur.

As previously reported by The Messenger, the commissioners initially had issues with the contract because it didn’t address all of the costs associated with the position. The contract stated the sheriff’s office would hire and pay the individual, with the school district reimbursing for salary — $24,303, including wages, Medicare, PERS and workman’s comp costs — on a monthly basis.

The latest contract states the school district must advance the county $15,000 to pay for salary, benefits and other costs, including but not limited to “vacation, training, medical/hospitalization insurance, mileage, unemployment, compensation, equipment, supplies, clothing, ammo, and overtime incurred from this agreement,” states the contract.

The new contract also bumps up the number of total hours the officer is permitted to work in a year. Now it’s 1,600 hours, up from 1,440. The hourly rate of $14 per hour for 40 hours per week remained the same in both contracts.

The sheriff’s office has already selected the officer for the job — Sgt. Duane Covert, of Nelsonville. Despite the contract still being in limbo, Covert has been working on a voluntary basis, stated McClelland.

If the school produces any changes out of the Sept. 11 board meeting, Eliason said he expects to discuss the contract at the earliest commissioner meeting, which will be Sept. 17.