By Nicole Minier
CHURUBUSCO — The Smith-Green school board and Churubusco’s Town Council both unanimously approved a contract extension for school resource officer Chad Fulkerson.
Fulkerson has been the SRO at Smith-Green off and on for several years due to unstable funding sources.
Both the town and school officials say they want the program to continue, and the school is working toward more permanent funding for Fulkerson’s position.
When the SRO program began, the state offered grants for funding the officer’s salary. Now, SGCS Superintendent Galen Mast says state funding has been slashed from $21 million to $7 million, and grants are hard to obtain.
“They try to get you to take it into your budget,” Mast told the school board last week. “Each year they pull back a little bit on how much they give in grants.”
Fulkerson is being paid out of the school’s General Fund because there was no grant for this school year.
Mast is looking into another grant from the Dekko Foundation, and said the school should know by spring break if the grant will be approved.
“If that doesn’t work, we can discuss different funding options that other schools have done,” Mast said.
The Dekko Foundation grant would cover Fulkerson’s salary, about $37,000, for 24 months.
As part of the contract with the town, the school pays the salary and the town provides all the necessary training and equipment, such as Fulkerson’s squad car and uniform.
The new contract is 18 months — through the 2017-18 school year.
“We see a great benefit in this program,” Mast said. “We believe our program is working well. He is always on the go throughout the day.”