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Citrus Heights requests school district fund officers for San Juan, Mesa Verde

File photo, Mesa Verde High School is located 7501 Carriage Drive, in Citrus Heights. // CH Sentinel

By Sara Beth Williams–
Following a 2-2 tied vote on whether the city should use federal coronavirus relief funds to fund placement of officers in each high school, the Citrus Heights City Council voted unanimously on Thursday to formally request funding from the San Juan Unified School District to help pay for placing a dedicated school resource police officer at both Mesa Verde and San Juan High School.

“I’m very pleased that we’ve made it to this point today,” Citrus Heights Vice Mayor Bret Daniels said during the Oct. 26 council meeting before voting on the resolutions commenced, adding that “there’s no greater concern than the safety of children.” As previously reported by The Sentinel, Daniels has been a strong proponent of police presence in schools in Citrus Heights.

Initially, Daniels said he supported spending American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds on funding two police officers because ARPA funds need to be used up in a short period of time. According to the National League of Cities, jurisdictions have until Dec. 31, 2026, to fully expend any ARPA funds.

Daniels also said he supported the idea of collaborating with the district, saying in part, “it’s the responsibility of the school district to help us with this.” Councilmember Jayna Karpinski-Costa agreed with Daniels, noting that the “school [district] knows best how to protect the kids.”

The council considered three different resolutions regarding school resource officer funding, including authorizing use of the city’s General Fund to pay for two additional police officers to be assigned to the two high schools in Citrus Heights, authorizing the use of ARPA funding to fund the two additional officers, or directing the city manager to formally request funding from the San Juan Unified School District to fund two additional police officers.

During the council meeting, Daniels’ first motion to pass resolution No. 2, which would authorize the city to use ARPA funding to fund additional police officers, resulted in a tie between the four present council members, with Mayor Tim Schaefer and Daniels in favor and councilmembers MariJane Lopez-Taff and Karpinski-Costa against. Daniels immediately motioned to pass resolution No. 3, which would direct the city manager to formally request funding assistance from the San Juan school district. The resolution passed unanimously, with Councilwoman Porsche Middleton absent.

Ongoing conversations have been occurring between the city, school district, and Police Department regarding public safety within Citrus Heights Schools throughout 2022 and 2023. Earlier this year, City Council members requested a feasibility study from the Police Department into funding extra police officers at two local high schools due to the increasing number of shootings occurring throughout the country.

In an August City Council meeting, Citrus Heights Chief of Police Alex Turcotte presented findings from the study to the council, estimating a cost of more than $380,000 annually for the placement of two officers, one for each high school campus. According to Turcotte, the initial startup cost would also be an additional $250,000.

An initial feasibility study considered the costs of placing an officer in each of the 12 public schools in Citrus Heights, with the police chief reporting an estimated cost of about $2.5 million annually to do so. The council has since looked at more narrowed proposals focused just on the city’s public high schools.

According to a budget summary on the city’s website, the General Fund budget for the current fiscal year shows expenditures of $39.8 million, with 57% of that allocated for police services.

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