Council officially backs plan to save SRO

Spruce Grove hoping Parkland County reconsiders for next year's budget

Spruce Grove council is backing the city's plans to keep a School Resource Officer working in Parkland School Division.

After Parkland County decided to pull out of the funding agreement at the end of June, Spruce Grove and Stony Plain agreed to evenly split the shortfall moving forward.

Spruce Grove Mayor Stuart Houston says council doesn't see this position as optional. 

"It's overwhelmingly important for us to maintain and achieve that interaction with the kids, and the variety of things on bullying, on drug enforcement, and community pride and respect," he said.

"The work that the RCMP are doing in our schools is vital for crime prevention."

He says he's optimistic that the County will take another look at funding the position during upcoming budget deliberations.

The move will cost both municipalities an additional $6500 dollars for the year, on top of the $26,000 that each has already committed.

Houston says the collaboration is something that needs to be done.

"Our partners from Parkland County are facing some financial difficulties, so without being critical, we recognize that they have some significant challenges with the coal phase-out," he said.

"We want to let our partners know that we're going to help fund that for 2019, and (in) discussions with Mayor (Rod) Shaigec, there's an opportunity for them to revisit that in their 2020 budget."

If the funding isn't re-added to the County's budget next year, the City and the Town would each take on a 30% stake of the funding. 

That would increase the financial commitment from about $32,000 this year, to over $41,000 next year.

When it comes to the County's decision, Houston says the City hopes it's not a sign of things to come.

"We have a lot of regional shared services that we do. And when we have one of our shared services get dropped by one of our partners for any reason, then it creates a conversation about how we're going to achieve that," he said.

"That's the part where you feel a little bit of frustration, of them backing out of it. But at the same token, we have to recognize why they did it, and the challenges that they're facing."

The Parkland School Division would continue to cover the remaining 40% of the salary.


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