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Get Resource Officer Contract Completed

Prevention resource officers provide a needed service within our schools. Outside of their obvious role of securing a school and keeping students and staff safe, officers also serve as role models for many young students.

That’s why a dispute between the Ohio County Sheriff’s Department and the Ohio County Board of Education over a new contract doesn’t make sense.

The sheriff’s department and the board of education have partnered for years to provide resource officers in the schools. Both sides have been working without a contract since July 2020, though. That came to a head Tuesday, when Sheriff Thomas Howard did not have his PROs report to their buildings.

The crux of the dispute appears to come down to money and, ultimately, control. Howard said the school district, which expects to pay the sheriff’s department $562,000 this year for six deputies to work at five Ohio County schools, is questioning the number of officers needed as PROs. Howard also said school administrators want more control over where PROs are assigned — control he is not willing to cede. There’s also a question as to whether the school district is up-to-date with payments for the deputies.

Howard told Ohio County commissioners that he has not received a response to his inquiries on these matters from school administrators.

Despite the obvious safety concerns, what makes the situation even more unacceptable is that the parties involved all have worked with one another for years. Howard is a former Wheeling police PRO at Triadelphia Middle and Woodsdale Elementary schools, where he worked with then-principal Kim Miller, now superintendent of Ohio County Schools.

Howard’s chief deputy, John Schultz, also is a former PRO at Wheeling Middle School. His principal for a few of those years? Rick Jones, now assistant superintendent of Ohio County Schools.

Ohio County Board of Education President David Croft said he expects the board and the county to reach agreement soon on a new contract. Good. That needs to happen sooner rather than later, as school officials and the sheriff understand the importance of keeping PROs in the school. It’s time to get the contract done and have this issue out of the way.

In the meantime, though, if there’s a breakdown in communications between school administrators and the sheriff, get it fixed.

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