Caldwell County students will start the new school year with a new law enforcement presence in place.
An agreement involving the school district, the City of Princeton and the Princeton Police Department has been approved in which the police force will provide a school resource officer for the year.
That officer will be a familiar face to many on campus — Brock Thomas, who had held the position about a decade ago as a deputy with the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office.
Police Chief Chris King noted that Thomas remains certified as a school resource officer and was available to work the seasonal schedule the resource officer’s position now entails.
King detailed the plan with Princeton City Council members Monday, after meetings involving Mayor Danny Beavers, School Superintendent Nate Huggins and himself last week.
Under the agreement, the school board will cover the salary of one officer — Thomas — who will serve in the position from Aug. 15 through May 5.
Other officers will handle school duties during the weeks school remains in session after May 5, King noted.
The council authorized the mayor to execute a formal agreement with the school district regarding the position.
City and police officials hope to soon have a second officer on the school district’s campus as well.
“As I stated before, if we’re going to take it over, we’re going to do it right,” King said.
Ideally, the department can hire a retired officer or another officer amenable to the seasonal schedule.
Beavers expressed optimism about the city’s role in providing the service.
“We have an excellent person to fill this position,” he said. “I feel really good about providing the school resource officer, and I hope that we’re successful in finding a second person to wrok in the same situation.
In addition to the $30,000 allocated for Thomas, the school board also agreed to provide $10,000 toward a second officer, leaving the city responsible for the other $20,000.
King said the current plan is to have one officer at the high school at all times, with the other officer dividing time among the middle, elementary and primary schools.
In other council business:
• The council approved second reading of an employee pay plan ordinance for 2018-19.
• Council members awarded a contract for the city’s 2017-18 fiscal year audit to David Anderson, the low bidder out of two received.
Anderson also handled the city’s audit for the prior fiscal year.