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Greater Latrobe a step closer to resource officer

| Tuesday, May 27, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

After a county-wide effort to garner donations, a new fund to support Greater Latrobe's school resource officer will now carry more than $30,000.

Donors gave $7,610 to support a Safety and Security Fund through the Greater Latrobe Partners In Education Foundation, said Jessica Golden, director of development for the foundation and the school district.

Of 118 organizations participating in the Day of Giving sponsored by the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County and the Pittsburgh Foundation, the fund saw the 15th highest amount of donations, Golden said.

Thirty-four individual supporters gave donations on May 6, which were partially matched by the sponsoring foundations.

Golden said the newly created Safety and Security Fund has received $15,000 in donations with $12,000 in grants pending.

Latrobe Police Department is now interviewing candidates for the school resource officer, a fully trained police officer who will work in each of Greater Latrobe's five buildings educating and building relationships with students while available to also investigate crimes or act during any emergencies.

The officer's salary will be funded by $90,000 in grants contributed over two years through the district and state Department of Education.

Golden said once the officer is employed, he or she can help determine the direction of other safety measures that might need resources from the fund.

“It's definitely helping to initiate a school resource officer and it's more of a program than just a person,” she said.

Maryann White, president of the Greater Latrobe Partners In Education Foundation, said after events like the mass stabbing at Franklin Regional High School in April, the foundation's board wanted to do its part to help keep students as safe as possible.

“We felt this was a way for the foundation to get involved and go above and beyond what the school district is able to do with their budget constraints,” she said.

At public meetings, residents have voiced concerns over funding the officer long-term, as well as supporting medical benefit costs that come with hiring new employees.

White said when appropriate, the fund will help stretch the grant and alleviate other associated costs.

The school district hopes to have the officer in place by fall.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or sfederoff@tribweb.com.

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