By JEROD CLAPP
CLARKSVILLE — A school resource officer was approved for Clarksville Community Schools by its board of trustees and the Clarksville Town Council on Tuesday.
Superintendent Kim Knott said the “nuances” in the contract that prevented its approval at the board’s Jan. 15 meeting — indemnification and the payment schedule from the district to the town — were worked out.
Jim Bemiss, board member, said he’s glad the district and the town were able to come to an agreement on the contract, especially in light of recent school shootings nationwide.
“It’s obvious to me ... that this is a great addition to our staff,” Bemiss said. “It’s just that the times dictate that we do this and I think it’s good for our kids. And I think it will have a lot of other positive effects other than just having an officer in the building.”
Officer Michael Popplewell with the Clarksville Police Department will serve all three schools in the district starting Jan. 25. The district will pay about $38,000 per school year to partially fund his salary with the town picking up the rest of the tab.
The Clarksville Town Council approved the measure unanimously. Council president Bob Polston said discussion about school safety is ongoing and began even before the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
“With the conditions that are going around the country today at schools, we just thought that we probably should [address] some safety concerns,” Polston said. “That’s what we did.”
Doug Wacker, board member, said he’s glad to see the contract approved.
“You know I have been a strong advocate of this,” Wacker said. “I think it will serve Clarksville schools well and I appreciate all the work from Chief [Mark] Palmer and Dr. Knott in getting this done, getting the training done and getting the school resource officer for our school.”
Bemiss said he hopes the move leads to other agreements between the school board and the town.
“I think it’s one big step,” Bemiss said. “I also think it hopefully will be the opening of the door for more partnerships with the town, and I do perceive it that way. It’s a very, very good thing to be happening in our communities.”
Palmer said in a news release that he’s glad his department can contribute to school safety in Clarksville.
“As we continue trying to improve the safety of our community, I believe there is nothing more valuable than our children,” Palmer said in the release. “This is a true milestone for our community and I am proud to see it come to life.”
Along with Popplewell, a backup officer will be available to the district if he is away from work.
The school board passed the measure 3-0 with board members Mike Kane and Andy Bramer absent.
The school board also approved a resolution to transfer $326,000 of unused money in its general fund to the rainy-day fund.
Wacker said he’s glad the district is in a position to save some money rather than use it to stay within its budget. Bemiss said he always hopes extra money can be used to the benefit of students, but he understands financial circumstances force school districts to keep a healthy balance in emergency funds.
“... In these uncertain times over in the last eight years and what I suspect will be the next eight years, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the fact that we’re not worrying every month about paying the light bill,” Bemiss said.
Knott said she didn’t know the exact amount the district has put away, but she said it should come out to more than $2 million. The board passed the measure unanimously.