PARSIPPANY — The back and forth between Parsippany’s Municipal Government and its Board of Education continues regarding the ongoing debate concerning Parsippany’s SRO and Security positions for the school district. After Parsippany’s Mayor and Council issued a press release stating that they propose keeping current terms of the SRO program in place for the new year, then move toward splitting the program’s true costs 50-50 after that…… the Board of Education is responding back.
The Board of Education’s attorney received the Township’s counterproposal at 3:33 p.m. on July 12, a mere two minutes prior to the publication of the Township’s press release. The Board has not had the opportunity to review the counter-proposal which includes terms and conditions that were not included in the Board’s original proposal to the Township.
The Board of Education offered to enter a one-year deal with the Township that eliminated the Director of Security position and spread the funding for that position, which had already been budgeted by the Board, across the remaining four SRO positions. To be clear, the Board has not had any difficulties with striking its budget. It has done so in a timely and responsible manner.
Rather than accepting that offer, which would allow the District to safely open its doors in September after what can only be described as an incredibly difficult year for students and staff alike, the Township seeks to bind the Board of Education to some unknown costs in the future years, costs over which the Board has no control.
The Board has already identified to the Township the incorrectness of their “back of the napkin” numbers provided in May as well as the “real” figures provided in June. The costs cited by the Township for the SROs do not accord with the salary ordinance or with the PBA contract. At no time has the Township requested anything other than what the Board is currently paying for the Class III officers, which is the entirety of their salary? The Board’s request for a one-year deal, until the real costs can be ascertained and negotiated, is wholly reasonable and responsible.
The Board has never, since the inception of this program, paid half of all costs associated with these positions. The costs cited by the Township, costs such as insurance, “allowances,” “training and equipment expenses,” overtime, longevity, and fringe benefits are costs that the Township incurs regardless of whether these officers are stationed in our schools or elsewhere. While the Board is not adverse to discussing an increase of a fixed amount for SROs, binding the Board to an agreement without specific discussions and negotiations over what is to be included in those costs, would be irresponsible. Shared service agreements are meant as just that; the Board’s contribution has always been to supplement, not supplant, the costs that the Township would otherwise expend for these positions.
The Township’s decision to negotiate this agreement via public sentiment places the district in the unfortunate position of having certain aspects of its security measures publicized. The Township should agree to the one-year extension offered by the Board and negotiate in good faith over what costs should or will be included moving forward.