June 29, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Medina City Council lowers cost for officer in school

MEDINA — City Council approved a contract Monday night that lowers what Medina City Schools pays the city for its middle school resource officer in light of the district’s financial troubles.

“The school is still paying up to $25,000, which is less than what they paid for in the past,” Mayor Dennis Hanwell said.

Hanwell said the city will pay for Detective Kirk Vozar’s work through the Police Department’s budget with the understanding that once a levy is passed and the school district is on better financial footing, it will pay 75 percent of the school resource officer’s costs.

The school district has a 5.9-mill emergency levy on the November ballot that would bring in about $6.9 million a year over five years. Offi­cials have made $9.5 million in cuts since voters rejected an 11.7-mill incremental levy in November 2009. The levy would have generated $13.8 million a year once fully phased in over three years.

For years, the city has stationed officers in Medina City Schools and the Medina County Career Center, Hanwell said.

The city pays for the school resource officer at the high school, the Career Center pays the city for its officer, and the city and school district split the cost of the middle school officer, he said.

Neither Police Chief Patrick Berarducci nor Finance Director Keith Dirham knew immediately Monday night what the agreement would cost the Police Depart­ment.

Hanwell said school resource officers act as men­tors and counselors, help teach students about drug abuse and law enforcement, and deal with crimes that occur on school property.

Berarducci said it was the middle school officer who got leads in the former James Lumber building fire on June 2, which was ruled arson. Three juveniles later were charged with the crime through Vozar’s contacts, he said.

“I think it’s a valuable pro­gram,” Berarducci said.

Contact Kaitlin Bushinski at (330) 721-4050 or kbushinski@medina-gazette.com.