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Pay arrangement eyed for Plum school resource officer

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Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

Plum police Officer Mark Kost spends the majority of his work time in the school district.

The borough for several years has been paying for about half the cost of the school resource officer program that was started 11 years ago.

Changes could be on the way for the 2014-15 school year.

Plum School Board members during a committee meeting this month plan to discuss increasing the district's contribution from $76,000 to about $102,000 to compensate for Kost's time in the schools.

“He spends 180 (school) days in the district out of a 260-day work year or 69 percent (in the district),” Plum Manager Michael Thomas told councilmen and school board members during last week's intergovernmental committee meeting.

The Plum School District since 2010 and for the current school year has contributed $76,000 each year toward Kost's salary and benefits that in 2014 are set to total $146,762, Thomas said.

According to the numbers provided by Thomas, the district's contribution has remained constant while the cost of the officer's salary and benefits has increased over the past several years.

The district's annual payment of $76,000 represented 58 percent of the cost of the program in 2010; 57 percent in 2011, 56 percent in 2012; 53 percent in 2013 and 51 percent for 2014, according to the borough numbers.

Council Vice President Keith Nowalk suggested during last week's meeting that a new officer who is paid less than Kost take over the duties.

“Get a new officer there,” Nowalk said.

Council President Mike Doyle disagreed, citing Kost's credentials. “With his experience, we don't want to change officers,” Doyle said.

Nowalk proposed more school resource officers in the wake of the shooting rampage Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children and six adults dead.

Among his credentials, Kost is a certified instructor for the National Association of School Resource Officers.

He also is a certified D.A.R.E instructor. Kost also is trained in bomb detection, crisis negotiations and school crisis planning.

Kost, an officer for 23 years, serves in a law enforcement capacity and as an instructor and counselor.

Kost is based at the high school and handles duties at the other schools including D.A.R.E. instruction in the five elementary schools.

Council during the voting meeting Monday night was expected to vote on a memorandum of understanding with the district for the resource officer position.

The school board was to consider continuing to pay $76,000 for the program for the current school year.

The borough budget runs from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31. The school district's budget extends from July 1 through June 30.

School board President Andrew Drake said members would discuss including 70 percent of the cost of the resource officer in the district's 2014-15 budget.

“From a budgeting standpoint, if we get 70 percent of the days, we pay 70 percent of the cost,” Drake said.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or kzapf@tribweb.com.

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