Now that budget season is over and the axe didn't fall as hard on the School Department as school officials feared, they voted Tuesday to approve paying half the salary for a police officer at East Greenwich High School this coming year.
The school resource officer, or SRO, will be at the high school five days a week. It won't be Officer Al Marcella, however. The well-liked Officer Al retired earlier this summer (though he'll still be covering detail shifts, so he won't be completely absent from town).
According to Police Chief Tom Coyle, the SRO will be filled by seniority.
The decision to fund the officer comes after reinstatement of an SRO last spring after a series of incidents at the high school that involved police. The culminating incident involved an essay handed in by a student that officials deemed threatening. The student was suspended indefinitely and police charged him with creating a disturbance.
The SRO had been cut from the town's budget two years before. When the decision to reinstate the officer came up this year, the town asked the school department to pay half the cost.
Because of budget uncertainties, the decision to approve an SRO was repeatedly postponed. The vote Tuesday night will be good news to some parents.
“Please, please, please for all of our children, get that back,” asked parent Jen Condon at a meeting in May.
EGHS Principal Michael Podraza said he was pleased.
"We are pleased to once again have a member of the EGPD at EGHS. The SRO program is another valuable asset for us to help fulfill our school's mission "of providing a safe and supportive environment," Podraza said via email. "On behalf of the EGHS community we thank the members of the School Committee and the EGPD for their efforts in restoring an SRO to the halls of EGHS this school year."