• 75°

Demopolis BOE agrees to add second SRO

The Demopolis Board of Education and the Demopolis Police Department reached an agreement Monday night to allow for a second School Resource Officer to help keep the four schools in the system safe.

Currently, SRO Marcus Williams is assigned to the entire system, but spends most of his time between Demopolis Middle School and Demopolis High School. DPD Chief Tommie Reese said he’s not able to spend enough time at U.S. Jones Elementary and Westside Elementary because there is more need for him at the two other schools.

During Monday night’s board meeting, the two sides came to an agreement to hire a retired officer to serve as the SRO for the two elementary schools.

“The maximum salary for a retired officer in Alabama is $23,000,” Reese said. “With a retired officer, you get the experience and the post certification that you wouldn’t have in a new officer. This way, we can take them around the schools, show them what to do and go from there.”

Reese added that the city will cover the cost of benefits and uniforms, and they will also provide a car. Demopolis Superintendent Al Griffin said having two SROs in the school system will be a tremendous benefit.

“The No. 1 issue facing school systems today is safety of the students,” he said. “The new SRO will split time between U.S. Jones and Westside, while the current SRO will stay at the middle school and high school.”

The cost of the salary will fall to the school system, and the system’s CFO Evelyn James said they had the money to cover the cost.

The board also approved a memorandum of agreement between the State Department of Education and the Demopolis City Schools that will provide the school system with $40,000 at no cost to the system to pay for an agreement with STI Achievement Services. STI will provide professional development for the ACT Aspire tests, which is used in third through eighth grade. They will also provide ACT prep at the high school, provide additional Bring Your Own Device training at U.S. Jones and help with the implementation of the Nearpod app at Westside Elementary. The Nearpod app is a teaching tool that teachers can use in the classroom.

In other business, the board approved a new system for hiring substitute teachers for 2015 due to the new regulations from the Affordable Healthcare Act. The school system wants to make sure it will not incur any penalties from the Act because of the hours substitute teachers work, so now, anyone who applies to be a substitute teacher after January will not be eligible until the fall, and anyone who applies after July will not be eligible until January 2016.

In other business, the board also approved the following personnel recommendations from Griffin:

•Accept retirement of Albert Williams Sr. as DHS custodian

•Open DHS custodian position through Jan. 16, 2015, with a tentative start date of March 1

•Hire Beth Wideman as a teacher at Westside Elementary

The board also took the following action during the meeting:

•Continue agreement with West Alabama Public Transportation

•Approve payroll and expenditures from the month of November. James said the sales tax numbers for 2014 are up $22,577 over the numbers from 2013.

•Approve overnight travel for DHS career tech students to the Alabama State Career Development Conference in Birmingham on Feb. 19-20

•Approve GEAR UP Alabama memorandum of understanding

•Approve request from Ross Martial Arts to use the DHS gymnasium for the 2015 Complete Grappling Challenge