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Edison school board, police department close to shared service agreement for school security

EDISON — The Edison Township Public Schools Board of Education is seeking approval from the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and the state Attorney General’s Office to waive an administrative fee so it can move forward with a shared services agreement with the Edison Police Department.

The shared services agreement would bring in Class III special law enforcement officers (SLEO) and off-duty police officers to provide security in and around schools.

In contract discussions, representatives of the Edison Police Department advised the board the police department is required to contract for and to use an outside entity for the scheduling of off-duty and other ancillary services, which includes a 7.5 percent administrative fee to the outside contractor for the scheduling service.

“The full-time job of (Class III officers) is for school safety,” board President Jerry Shi said.

Shi said the board does not believe a third party scheduling the Class III officers is necessary.

Interim Superintendent of Schools Paul Saxton said the district took issue with the fee because the outside entity contracts scheduling for overtime of regular police officers.

“For our SROs (school resource officers) and our SLEOs, this is not overtime for them,” Saxton said. “We have 12 officers who work eight hours a day, five days a week.”

Board members passed a resolution on Dec. 17 calling for the fee to be waived. The resolution states the service fee would “significantly raise the cost of the shared services agreement for the taxpayers of Edison” and the shared services agreement between the police department and the school board “provides consistent scheduling for the Class III officers and would provide transparent check and balances on the use of off-duty police officers.”

Along with the shared services agreement, the board is continuing to seek the hiring of a director of school safety and security. The director would lead and oversee the safety and security of the 16,600 students in 20 buildings and a staff of 2,100.

During the 2017-18 school year, the board entered a shared services agreement with the township to hire off-duty armed Edison police officers to patrol the schools, grounds and facilities. The agreement, which was in place from Feb. 26 through June 20, was the outcome of hours of discussion and the impact of the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, during which a 19-year-old gunman killed 17 people.

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