Burrell School District extends contract with Lower Burrell police | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

Burrell School District extends contract with Lower Burrell police

Mary Ann Thomas
1312816_web1_BurrellHighSchool

Burrell School District students will continue to have a familiar face as their school resource officer for at least another three years.

School board members agreed Tuesday to keep Lower Burrell Detective John Marhefka as the resource officer, extending the district’s contract with Lower Burrell through June 30, 2022.

The school board was weighing whether to extend its contract with the city or hire other law enforcement personnel at perhaps a lower cost.

While Burrell has had a resource officer for a number of years, other school districts are using different combinations of law enforcement officers for daily security at schools. Burrell Superintendent Shannon Wagner conducted an informal survey of local school districts and found a split between those that contracted with their local police departments and those that hired their own officers.

The district pays roughly $87,700 per year to keep Marhefka in the schools under its contract with the city.

At the end of the day, school board members decided to continue having Lower Burrell police provide the resource officer.

Although Wagner presented the board with other possibilities, “collectively, we realize we have a good thing going with the City of Lower Burrell Police,” school board President Tricia Shank said, referring to Marhefka’s presence in the schools and also the daily patrols provided by the department at the district’s schools.

City police also opened a small office in Bon Air Elementary for even more police presence, all without additional charges to the district.

Lower Burrell Police Chief Tim Weitzel, who attended Tuesday’s meeting, said he was glad the school board opted to renew its contract with the city.

Had the decision gone the other way, Weitzel said his department would have worked with any new officer hired by the school district. However, it would have likely entailed extra time and effort to establish a working relationship between a new school officer and his department.

Weitzel said there are a number of advantages of using city police in the Burrell district, including familiarity with the schools where city police conduct training such as shooter training drills.

Lower Burrell police offer special value to the district, Weitzel said.

“We don’t do just the minimum training,” he said.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter .

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.