Daniels makes new pitch to keep Clay Sheriff deputies in classrooms


Update: In an earlier version of our email newsletter, a 2017 file photo showed Sheriff Daniels standing in front of a group of Clay County constitutional officers. That earlier file photo has no relevance to the subject matter of the story.

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels has proposed a new option that would see the costs for each county school resource officer reduced, while allowing his deputies to maintain their positions across the county’s schools.

Last week, Clay County School District Superintendent Addison Davis announced in a press conference that former CCSO Lieutenant Kenneth Wagner had been selected as the Chief of Police for the district’s incoming police department. A few days later, Daniels sent a letter to the school board detailing his new proposal.

“I am proposing that the Clay County School District should pay only a portion of the annual cost for each school resource officer,” Daniels said in his letter.

Currently, the Clay County School District pays for CCSO resource officers while they are serving the schools and when they are assigned to non-school related functions. For example, during a holiday break when nobody is not at school, a resource officer might be assigned to do something else not related to county schools. Although that officer isn’t working for the schools during the breaks, the school district still would be required to cover the costs of that officer.

Daniels’ proposal would change that.

“The terms of the current agreement are fundamentally unfair, in that they require the school district to pay more than their fair share of the cost of each school resource officer,” Daniels’s letter reads.

As a result, Daniels’ proposal would see the school board cover the costs of the SROs while they are protecting the schools, and the BCC cover the cost of the SROs when they are assigned to non-school related functions. According to this proposal, when school is out of session, SROs will be assigned throughout the county to supplement the standard operations, with the costs being covered by the Board of County Commissioners.

So far, Daniels has only proposed a new option. The BCC first would need to agree to these terms. And according to Daniels, if both sides agree to this proposal, CCSO would being selecting and training SROs to be assigned at the schools currently using guardians. Daniels said the board can expect an SRO in each school by September 2020.

“The safety of our students and schools is my highest priority,” Daniels’ letter reads. “For that reason, I hope that the Clay County School District and the Clay County Board of County Commissioners will, after reviewing this proposal, make the decision to allow the Clay County Sheriff’s Office to be the agency responsible for protecting our students and our schools.”

Davis put out his own a statement on Friday in response to Daniels’ proposal, saying:

“I am excited that the sheriff is going to revisit overall cost per officer charged to the school district. As stated this week, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office has been outstanding partner in this work. I look forward to reviewing a potential new proposal along with revisiting the decertification of our guardians, which was new to me.”

Along with this letter, Daniels released some numbers to go with this proposal. During the training stages, each SRO would be paid $38,000. Once they are assigned to a school, their pay would jump to $49,480 a year with an average of 82.5 hours during a two-week pay period.

The total cost of the proposal in year one would be $5,718,187. The school board would pay $3,991,392, while the BCC would pay $1,726,795. In year two, the total decreases to $4,514,187 with the school board covering $3,158,931 and the BCC covering $1,354,256. With Clay County’s two charter schools added into the equation, the costs should rise marginally.


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