Stettler town hall. (Lisa Joy/Stettler Independent)

Clearview Schools, Town of Stettler and County in discussion for new School Resource Officer agreement

‘It’s important that we try to solve this thing and see if there is a path forward to keeping an SRO in our community.’

By Kevin J. Sabo

For the Independent

Due to ever-tightening budgets, a long-standing Clearview Public Schools program may draw to a close at the end of the 2021 school year.

Since 2001, Clearview Public Schools in Stettler has participated in and partially funded the School Resource Officer program, which sees a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police based out of WM. E. Hay Secondary School.

The Clearview Public Schools board of the day approached the Town of Stettler and the County of Stettler to help fund the program; however, the agreement has not been reviewed since it was initially signed and with tightening budgets, in December 2019 Clearview gave notice to the other two partners that they would withdraw from the agreement at the end of 2020 though the door was left open to renegotiate the agreement.

Unfortunately, before any meaningful communication happened between the parties the world was thrust into the pandemic and discussions surrounding the program never happened.

However, with the Town, County, and Clearview all entering budget cycles the conversation has resumed, with a meeting between all parties two weeks ago, and then followed another at the Clearview Public Schools board meeting the week after.

“We finally got together two weeks ago, and we talked,” said Town of Stettler Chief Administrative Officer Greg Switenky.

“It was a very frank discussion. I think in the end, the Town and the County are still prepared to fund this position.”

Following the Nov. 25th Clearview board meeting, the board informed the Town that they would agree to extend the program until the end of the 2021 school year in June, and that they would establish an exploratory committee exploring options to keep the position in the school.

The exploratory committee membership will be determined at a later time.

“It’s important that we try to solve this thing and see if there is a path forward to keeping an SRO in our community,” said Switenky.

Unlike many municipalities, due to its size Stettler is under contract with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to provide policing services in the community.

Under the agreement, the Town pays for eight members, though as a service that provides rural policing as well, additional members are supplied by the Province.

While the SRO is one of the eight members paid for by the Town, that officer is based out of the school, unless drawn elsewhere due to operational demands.

When the program started in 2001, the average yearly cost for an RCMP member was around $70,000.

However, over the last two decades a member costs the Town between $130,000 to $140,000.

Under the agreement, the cost for the SRO was split between the three parties, with the Town paying 25 per cent, the County paying 25 per cent, and the school board paying 50 per cent, though it should be noted that if the SRO was delegated elsewhere to meet RCMP operational needs the school board did not have to pay their share.

“(The RCMP members) are a pretty substantial line item on our budget,” said Switenky.

“If the funding partnership falls apart and the whole position becomes an expense to the Town of Stettler, it puts into jeopardy the ability to keep that position in the community.”

Despite agreeing to extend the program until the end of the 2021 school year, the Clearview Board did request that, if possible, the SRO position be moved to any vacant general duty policing position that may be available in Stettler so as to minimize costs while all parties chart the path forward.

The Town of Stettler council did agree to see about the request, though they did note that staffing is done by the RCMP and that they have little control over it.

All parties will continue discussion in the New Year to hopefully get a new agreement in place for the position.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19.  (File photo)
750 new COVID-19 cases identified in Alberta Sunday

Central zone currently has 1,182 active cases of the virus

County of Stettler council meeting highlights for Jan. 13th

County council chambers will be getting some audio-visual upgrades

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine deliveres to Canada are being delayed because of complications at their European distribution facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Delays of Pfizer vaccine delivery to impact Alberta’s vaccination plans

Alberta has administered 74,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine so far

Stettler town hall. (Lisa Joy/Stettler Independent)
Town of Stettler launches redesigned website

The new website increases user functionality and offers additional features

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

(Via the Canadian Press)
Alberta monolith comes with message to save eastern slopes of Rocky Mountains

‘They deserve our attention. They warrant our protection. They are under threat’

Bentley Blessing Pantry continues to faithfully serve the community

‘We just wanted to make everyone aware that we are still here to serve you throughout this coming year.’

A Suncor logo is shown at the company’s annual meeting in Calgary on May 2, 2019. A worker is missing after a dozer broke through ice on an inactive Suncor tailings pond in northern Alberta.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Worker missing after dozer breaks through frozen tailings pond in northern Alberta

The worker was an employee of Christina River Construction

File Photo
‘You took away some real joy,’ Sylvan Lake Winter Village turned off after vandalism

Sometime during the night of Jan, 12 the light display at the pier was vandalized and damaged

Most Read