FLEMING ISLAND – The Board of the Clay County School District voted 4-1 to enter negotiations that will put its police department under the direction of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office for the …
FLEMING ISLAND – The Board of the Clay County School District voted 4-1 to enter negotiations that will put its police department under the direction of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office for the next three years.
If negotiations are successful, the Clay County District Schools Police Department and its $4.8 million operating budget will be overseen by the sheriff’s office. CCSO School Resource Officers would start during the next school year.
Superintendent David Broskie will spearhead the negotiations, involving multiple stakeholders, the sheriff’s office, the Board of County Commissioners and others.
Broskie and School Board Attorney Jeremiah Blocker stressed the importance of complying with state statutes.
Members agreed to include charter schools and strongly expressed mutual support for transferring the district police department’s equipment to the sheriff’s to avoid paying duplicate costs.
The sheriff’s office would need to make a one-time $1.7 million payment to switch the equipment back to her agency, Sheriff Michelle Cook said during a workshop on Oct. 24.
Four years ago, the district separated from the sheriff's office in 2019 amid cost concerns. After reassessment, the school board will return to the prior arrangement, citing budgetary constraints and a desire to increase safety and security.
Board Member Beth Clark said it is important to avoid duplicated costs for taxpayers, particularly equipment. She said the already purchased equipment should transfer smoothly from the district to the sheriff’s office.
Board Member Michele Hanson advocated uniformly implementing security measures among charter schools, which are part of the district.
“Charter school students have taxpaying parents, and their lives matter, too. The same training, standards, expectations and procedures should apply,” she said.
Cook said once an agreement is reached, school resource officers would change their uniforms and continue their basic duties. She also said the sheriff’s office would intend to hire as many former district officers as possible for the same positions. A director would also be employed to oversee operations and report to an undersheriff.
Board Member Mary Bolla agreed.
“They will simply be in different uniforms. They will go from blue to green, and their cars will be wrapped differently,” she said.
Bolla also said in a one-on-one meeting with the sheriff, they agreed more coordinated training by the sheriff’s office would be “beneficial.”
“School policing is different than community policing, and we need to make sure that our staff are trained,” she said.