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BC lobbies for school DARE officers

Town’s compost facility operates in the red, marketing of product discussed

— The Town of Bethlehem is considering making changes to two community programs on its way to a balanced 2013 budget.

On Wednesday, Sept. 12, Bethlehem Central School District Superintendent Thomas Douglas spoke before the board on how reductions to school resource and DARE officers would affect the district. Also at the meeting was the town’s Recycling Coordinator Dan Rain, who presented a comparison of local compost facilities and their operations.

The town is looking to close a nearly $3.5 million budget gap. The town’s Budget Advisory Committee suggested over the summer eliminating the town’s compost facility would save between $100,000 and $200,000. Bethlehem also contributes about $338,000 to help pay for three school resource officers who also teach Drug Abuse Resistance Education to elementary school students. The district chips in an additional $45,000 for the service.

District could adjust to losing cops

Douglas said if the town decided to cut funding from the district for resource officers, the situation would not be ideal, but adjustments could be made.

“We sympathize with the situation everybody’s under and this is by no means something that we’re not use to as a district,” he said. “There are very difficult decisions ahead because of the fiscal realities that have been placed upon school districts and municipalities across the state.”

Board members asked Douglas to speak at the meeting because they are considering at least a reduction in the number of officers the town allots to work in the district. Douglas told the board he did his dissertation on resource officers and how their presence contributes to a school’s atmosphere.

He said the officers are needed at the middle school and high school levels because they are able to bond with students, which often helps to solve or stop crimes involving students because they “are typically more plugged into the community.” The superintendent also said the DARE program is important not only to teach small children about the dangers of drug use, but for them to learn respect for police. He called some of the work “vital.”

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