By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
The Grand Island Town Board took no action Monday on a proposed joint agreement between the town and Grand Island Central School District that would help re-establish a school resource officer position at the schools.
The Town Board left the matter tabled at its regular meeting and will await action by the Board of Education.
"We really are not in a rush. For as long as it takes for the town and the school district to make sure that everybody understands the agreement, we're not rushing this," Superintendent of Schools Brian Graham said Monday.
The joint agreement is based on municipal law that allows a town to hire a retired officer, Graham explained.
"Anybody who is retired and has these types of experiences is welcome to apply," he said.
The school board prefers the town establish a full-time position, while members of the Town Board prefer a part-time positions.
Councilman Michael Madigan said Thursday the Town Board agreed "to have the supervisor represent the board in negotiating the contract for a SRO (police officer coverage at the school) with the school superintendent. As part of this approval the Town Board set clear boundaries. Those boundaries were that the position would not be full time and that it aligns with our current 19-hour part-time police force and their associated pay rate and command structure."
The Town Board has qualms about opening the door to creating a full-time police force and providing a dedicated police car, as well as concerns about the SRO's hourly rate.
"As per the contract, the pay rate would be approximately 25 percent higher than our existing officers," Madigan said.
"From the district's perspective, we think a full-time school resource officer will serve our students as a school resource officer program is designed in its best practice," Graham said. "To have somebody fully dedicated to that mission is what's preferred by the district."
Madigan said the school district has a "preferred candidate" who is "highly qualified and an ideal fit for the position."
Chris Pyc, who held the SRO job in the district for 11 years, is the husband of Lisa Pyc, the school board president. Mr. Pyc attended the joint meeting between the school board and Town Board, as well as Monday's Town Board work session, when the SRO topic was discussed.
"Ethics-wise it should have been disclosed that the contract was tailored around a pre-selected candidate who has prior SRO experience and is considering retirement from law enforcement in order to accept this position and who has a conflict of interest associated with a school board member," Madigan said.
"The contract was not structured in the best interests of the taxpayers, the town and the schools and would likely have to be revised if that officer decided to reject the offer, resigned from the position or went out on extended leave resulting in the need for replacement," Madigan said.
Madigan said in the past he fully supports the SRO position.
He cited advantages of using the originally proposed two part-time Grand Island Police officers.
The school board will meet Monday at Connor Middle School.