August 22, 2019

CVU contracts with Shelburne Police for officer

By Jason Starr

Observer staff

The Champlain Valley School District is negotiating the terms of a three-year contract with the Shelburne Police Department to station an armed officer inside Champlain Valley Union High School.

The role of CVU’s “school resource officer” will be to provide protection in and around the building and serve as a mentor and educational resource for students, according to a job description principal Adam Bunting developed over the summer.

Bunting began lobbying the school board to create the position last spring, after a school shooting in Florida and an alleged attempted school shooting in Fair Haven, Vt. Bunting worked with a school resource officer at his former job as principal of Montpelier High School.

Shelburne Police Chief Aaron Noble has not yet advertised the position, but has had informal discussions with interested officers.

“There is interest from inside the department, as well as outside the department,” he said.

Bunting has stressed the importance of hiring the right person for the job and has outlined a hiring process that includes interviews with a committee of officers, students, community members and school administrators. Finalists would interview with both the principal and police chief, with each having veto power.

School administrators first approached the Hinesburg Police Department about partnering on the position, but could not reach an agreement with the Hinesburg Selectboard. Administrators also had discussions with the Williston Police Department and the Chittenden County Sheriff’s Office.

Noble said the position is tricky to manage because it follows the school calendar, rather than that of a typical full-time officer. School officers are also under the direction of two entities, taking orders from principals and the chief of police.

“It’s a new position, so it’s a scenario we are working through,” Noble said.

The district plans to fund the position at $85,000 annually, according to Chief Operations Officer Jeanne Jensen.

The officer will not wear a traditional police uniform at CVU.

“We decided that a full uniform would not feel right,” Bunting said. “He will be identifiable as a police officer, but won’t have the full uniform that we are used to seeing on the street.”

The Champlain Valley School Board unanimously endorsed the idea at its meeting last week, authorizing administrators to work out details with the Shelburne Police Department and come back to the board for final contract approval this fall.

The school officer would spend about 85 percent of his or her time at CVU, with the remaining 15 percent spent at the district’s K-8 schools, Bunting said.

“We hope they will be making connections with our sending schools — when needed, when invited — so students get to know whoever this is and build a relationship ahead of time,” he said.

Williston Lead Principal Greg Marino, who oversees Allen Brook and Williston Central schools, said in a June interview that he would not be interested in working with the district’s school resource officer. Williston’s schools already have working relationships with the Williston Police and Vermont State Police located in Williston, he said.

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