JOHNSTOWN — An idea a few years ago to seek federal money for one police officer for multiple Fulton County schools has been streamlined and evolved into one officer for one school.
County Sheriff Richard Giardino told the Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee Monday at the County Office Building that the Mayfield Central School District has requested a school resource officer.
New Mayfield Superintendent Christopher Harper joined Giardino at the session.
“We just have so many things, especially with mental health now,” Harper said of the need for an officer. “It’s very important to us.”
The sheriff requested permission to “update” a previous county board resolution from 2018 in which he was authorized to file a federal grant application to fund a school resource officer for multiple schools. The new officer would be a full-time deputy assigned to Mayfield Central School, and the position is contingent upon matching funds from the district.
Giardino said that upon further review, the federal grant awards appear to give preference to one officer for one school district, rather than a “rotating” school resource officer.
Officials said this deputy position in Mayfield would be different from the current “special patrol officer” the Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Board of Cooperative Educational Services District has with the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department at the former Meco Elementary School in the town of Johnstown, where several BOCES programs are located.
County Administrative Officer Jon Stead reminded the committee that 2 1/2 years ago the board accepted the “concept” of a part-time officer spread among three school districts, but that never materialized. He said this request is now geared just to the Mayfield district.
“It’s different from what the sheriff proposed a couple years ago,” Stead said.
Giardino added: “This would be an extra resource officer if we’re fortunate enough to get the grant.”
The resolution from 2018 authorized the sheriff to apply for U.S. Department of Justice Cops-Fast Program funding. At the time, Fulton County had approved a three-pronged comprehensive approach to school safety proposed by Stead and Giardino, which included a school resource officer.
Giardino told the committee the Mayfield Central School District is committed to paying the required matching funds for three years, for salary and benefits. The grant would fund up to $125,000 over three years with a commitment from the county for a fourth year.
If the grant is received, the sheriff said he will investigate further grants for the county’s other school districts.
Giardino said Fulton County’s previous grant application was on hold involving a lawsuit for 2 1/2 years and was recently opened up for application. He said the new application must be filed in early March.
The sheriff said he would return to the board if the county is successful, so supervisors can formally accept the grant.
The Public Safety Committee voted to update its previous application and earmark it for Mayfield. The full board will vote Feb. 10 on the proposed resolution.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected]