The Coast News Group
Community San Marcos

SMUSD to add third resource officer

The city of San Marcos and the San Marcos Unified School District are working on a plan to add a third school resource officer at one of the district campuses.

City officials approved earmarking $102,000 toward the hiring of a third resource officer during June 12 budget discussions. The City Council unanimously adopted the city’s $77 million general fund budget at the time.

Among the major discussion items was the need for a third officer at the local schools, in the wake of changing public safety dynamics at local campuses.

The district and city have met jointly in recent months to discuss, among other things, safety needs on campuses. A study was done to assess the safety needs and the recommendation was to add two additional officers, but both sides decided that one would be sufficient at the time.

“Ideally, four SROs would be ideal, but in this world everything’s not ideal,” said San Marcos Sheriff’s Capt. Dave Brown, who was part of the assessment. “Sufficient is three, two is lacking. And it might not have been lacking years ago, but we are kind of at a new normal with schools and security issues.”

According to the tentative agreement, the city and district would split the initial year’s cost, with the district increasing its share by 10 percent until it fully pays for the officer. Currently, the city pays for the two officers stationed at San Marcos High and Mission Hills High.

This officer would likely be stationed at San Elijo Middle school to provide coverage to the district’s southern edge, Brown said.

The new budget sets aside more than $2.9 million of the General Fund for long-range replacement and rehabilitation of city buildings, roads and sidewalks, lighting and storm drains, parks and landscaping, and equipment and vehicle replacement. As San Marcos continues to grow toward build-out, it becomes increasingly important to maintain existing infrastructure.

City officials also approved two new positions in addition to the resource officer: a real estate analyst and a full-time fleet mechanic to address the city’s increasing fire fleet maintenance needs.

Among the biggest increases in expenses in this year’s operating budget were pensions, which increased 5 percent and the $1.2 million increase to the sheriff’s department’s contract, a roughly 6 percent increase.