Lower Pottsgrove Makes SRO Offer to Pottsgrove Schools

A view from the back of the room (at top) during the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ meeting Thursday in Sunnybrook Ballroom

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – There’s a letter on the way, as of Thursday (May 20, 2021), from the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners to the Pottsgrove School District and its Board of School Directors. It contains details of a proposal and its associated costs, being presented by the township, to retain a police officer as a school resource officer (SRO) next year at Pottsgrove High.

You won’t read about those details here, at least not in any depth, yet.

Just before the end of the commissioners’ Thursday meeting, when a brief discussion of mailing such an offer arose, The Post’s managing editor, Joe Zlomek, publicly asked the board to disclose its contents. Township Solicitor Charles Garner politely suggested that might not be such a good idea.

Instead, Garner continued, it might be best for district administrators and school board members to read, in hand, specifics of a proposal meant for them, rather than read its contents in the media before the letter even arrives.

District resident Katie Coppa, who attended the commissioners’ meeting to again advocate for keeping Lower Pottsgrove in the SRO program, thanked them for the gesture and agreed with Garner. School board member Dr. Charles Nippert – who was in the audience too, and earlier read a statement (see it below) asking commissioners to reconsider withdrawing their SRO support – also thought the solicitor had a point.

Ultimately, Zlomek said he agreed as well.

The commissioners’ offer “isn’t any big secret,” Garner added. Eventually its details are likely to be made public, either by the district, or commissioners, or both. In fact, when he brought up the subject of sending the letter, Commissioner Michael McGroarty hinted the proposal:

  • Could leave an SRO in place at the high school and available for the coming academic year.
    A three-year contract between the district and the township, under which Pottsgrove annually pays a portion of the SRO’s salary and other expenses, is due to expire at the end of June. Commissioners have said they’d prefer to put more police manpower, including the SRO, on township streets;
  • Contained “changes and revisions” that, McGroarty seemed to indicate, would reflect a cost lower than a $170,000 “starting price” mentioned during the commissioners’ May 3 meeting; and
  • Might represent a way to move the SRO discussions forward.

At the school board’s May 11 meeting, when asked for an update on the SRO, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Robert Harney acknowledged he had heard “rumors about discussing the topic further,” but at the time said he doubted negotiations were “going forward from this point.” The district had already begun soliciting information and bids from outside contractors, Harney added, to potentially fill the SRO role.

Nothing’s etched in stone, however, until the school board finalizes its 2021-2022 budget next month. Maybe not even then.

Nippert’s appeal to Lower Pottsgrove commissioners

During the Board of Commissioners’ public comment period Thursday, Pottsgrove school board member Nippert read the following statement, a printed copy of which was given to The Post:

“My name is Charles Nippert and I live at 222 North Pleasantview Road in Lower Pottsgrove. Tonight, I am speaking for myself, and DO NOT represent any group or organization.

“Speaking as a concerned citizen, I know that two townships, Upper and Lower Pottsgrove, have long provided Security Resource Officers for the Pottsgrove School District. This agreement has a long and successful history. Working together, we seek to establish good relationships between the police and community youths. In these trying times, these relationships benefit all of us.

“There has been an outpouring of support from the community for continuing this practice. Upper Pottsgrove has already agreed to supply an officer for the Middle School. In my opinion, using local officers serves to maintain good relations between students and the local police. While I do not know the details of what is going on behind the scenes, I hope that the township can reach an agreement with the school board and the school administration, (and) reach a successful agreement that is fair and acceptable to all.

“I hope that we continue the SRO at the High School. The relationship between the district’s students and the police is important, so that kids can continue a positive relationship with the police.

“Thanks for your time and consideration.”

Photo by The Post