Bexley could provide a police officer to St. Charles Preparatory School, 2010 E. Broad St., to serve as a school-resource officer beginning with the 2019-20 school year if Bexley City Council approves legislation under consideration.

Ordinance 18-19 proposes the city enter into an agreement with Catholic Diocese of Columbus to pay 75% of the cost of the school-resource officer and for the city to pay the remaining 25%. The ordinance states the city's portion amounts to $32,000 for the 2019-20 school year and would be allotted from the city's general fund if approved.

Sixteen public school districts out of 19 in or near Franklin County have a police officer permanently stationed in some of their buildings. Only Bexley, Grandview Heights and Hamilton schools don't have a school-resource officer.

Bexley Mayor Ben Kessler said St. Charles administrators approached the city in April 2018 about partnering on a school-resource-officer program for the school.

Over the past year, St. Charles has paid the city to have special-duty police officers stationed at the school, on a rotating basis, during school hours.

Earlier this spring, St. Charles administrators proposed the idea of scheduling a full-time school-resource officer at the school, having received approval from the diocese to do so, Kessler said.

"We explained to them that the most common arrangement is schools would pay half of the cost of a school-resource officer," Kessler said at council's first reading of this ordinance May 28. "We felt that this was a different situation because it was a private school."

Kessler said the city researched SRO arrangements around the state and couldn't find a comparable agreement between a municipality and a private school. Bexley officials eventually came up with the 75%-25% arrangement, with the Catholic Diocese of Columbus agreeing to pay the majority, Kessler said.

"In order to do that, we would need to begin the training and assignment of an existing officer and then the hiring of an additional officer to fill in the vacancy that would be created by the SRO position," Kessler said.

Some council members expressed reservations about providing a school-resource officer to a private school. Others questioned whether the arrangement with St. Charles would obligate the city to provide an officer to Columbus School for Girls and the Bexley City Schools.

"If they want to have a police officer, which I think is a great idea, (St. Charles) can fund it themselves," council member Tim Madison said.

"This does seem to set a precedent for CSG and definitely Bexley City Schools," council member Troy Markham said.

Bexley city attorney Marc Fishel said the arrangement would not require the city to provide resource officers to other schools.

"This proposed ordinance and agreement would not set any legal precedent with regard to CSG or Bexley City Schools," he said.

Bexley City Schools explored hiring a school-resource officer as part of its strategic plan adopted last year but opted not to pursue the action, school board members said during a discussion in December.

Julie Eikenberry, chief financial officer at CSG, said the school has not requested a school-resource officer.

"The safety of our students and community is always a priority here at CSG, and we have a strong partnership with the city of Bexley Police Department," Eikenberry said. "In the past three years, we have worked with law enforcement and a security consultant to review and revise our safety practices and procedures, and we will continue to do so. This is an ongoing process about which we are intentional about the proactive implementation of security and safety measures on campus, as schools throughout the country should be."

Representatives for St. Charles could not be reached for comment.

Council was scheduled to give the legislation a second reading June 11, with the third and final reading tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. June 25 at Bexley City Hall, 2242 E. Main St.

editorial@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNews