Burbank received a federal grant to partially fund three school resource officers for the next three years — bumping up a program that has been reduced significantly in recent years — but it comes with a steep local match of nearly $1.2 million, which the city may not be able to afford.
City officials emphasized the value of a police presence on campus in the wake of recent school shootings nationwide, but were overwhelmed by a price tag more than three times the amount of the grant.
So the Burbank City Council is looking to the Burbank Unified School District to split the cost of the match, which would leave each agency on the hook for $592,500.
But in the wake of shrinking budgets, it may be a tough sell for the district, which school officials said is emerging from more than five years of revenue cuts.
“Certainly, we will have a discussion,” said Burbank Unified Supt. Jan Britz. “That will be something hard for us because of the fact that we’ve eliminated so many programs and taken so many cuts.”
The grant would contribute $375,000 to pay for the officers. Acceptance of the grant requires that the city continue to fund the three positions — which cost $130,000 each a year — for a fourth year.
The city can also decline the grant, or try to reduce the funding amount, which would, in turn, reduce the local match.
At the program’s peak previously, the city employed six school resource officers, though the majority of those positions were slashed in recent years because of budget cuts. Currently, one school resource officer remains, mostly stationed at the district’s high schools.
Councilman Bob Frutos, an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department, said he worked in a similar position for 13 years and recognized its value.
“From firsthand experience, being at Fremont, Crenshaw High School, Manual Arts, the relationships, the prevention, from suicide to violence to just mentorship is very valuable,” he said during a City Council meeting on Tuesday. “The community’s been definitely knocking on the door wanting this back.”
Just that morning, he added, a shooting was reported at a high school in Hawaii.
The violence reported across the country has left school districts preparing emergency responses for “a whole different kind of crises,” Britz said.
“We, as adults, it was unheard of when we were at school that someone would come to school with a gun and shoot people,” Britz said. “Now, we see it in the news on a regular basis.”
A campus police presence “makes (students) think twice before they make the wrong kinds of decisions,” she added.
The school board is slated to have a discussion on the grant next week, though it’s not expected take action at that time.