Millsboro included in IRSD’s revised School Resource Officer package

SELBYVILLE — Indian River School District is taking a more “local” approach in a revised School Resource Officer program for the 2020-21 year.

An SRO plan approved during the April 27 Zoom board of education meeting swaps one of three current Delaware State Police officers for a third School Resource Officer at the municipal level – the town of Millsboro.

The board vote was 9-0-1 in favor. Board member Scot Collins, police chief for the town of Selbyville, abstained.

“The big deciding factor is you had a municipality that really wanted to do it, and has a 24/7 police agency now, and is fastest growing area in our district,” said IRSD Superintendent Mark Steele.

“I want to thank the Indian River School District for considering our proposal and we are very excited to be able to do this,” said Millsboro Police Chief Brian Calloway. “Our number one goal is to be present in the schools and protect those students and also have a working relationship with the staff and students as well.”

The officer from Millsboro Police Department will join SROs providing by the municipal Georgetown and Selbyville departments.

This will mark a return of Millsboro Police Department’s SRO presence in the IRSD.

Chief Calloway, during a previous stage in his career, was the first SRO for Millsboro, going back to 2001. Mike Berrios, now with Capital Police, followed Chief Calloway, serving as SRO for several years.

“When that was the case that was the time where Millsboro wasn’t what Millsboro looks like today, when it came to population and things,” said Chief Calloway. “But what we found from that program was it was a great way for us to connect with our community, and naturally the youth that are in the schools. One of opportunities I had as an SRO was, I assisted as a football coach. Mike Berrios, he coached track. So, it was just a great way for us to be able to work in those schools.”

The total cost of the 2020-21 SRO program will be $409,719. The departmental breakdown is $90,708 for each state police SRO, $72,207 for Selbyville, $81,350 for Georgetown and $74,746 for Millsboro. The pay period is 10 months, Mr. Steele said.

The district examined five different proposals for SRO coverage for the next school year. Discussions were held with secondary school principals, the three local police agencies and Delaware State Police Troop 4.

Annexation of the East Millsboro Elementary School property this past January brought a second IRSD school into the town limits, joining Millsboro Middle School.

“At the end of the conversations, we believe at this particular stage … our recommendation as a committee was option 5 — two DSP, three municipal (officers),” said IRSD Superintendent Mark Steele. “I think you have to build relationships. Your bigger areas, we have a Georgetown. We have a Millsboro and we have Selbyville down south. Those community policing municipalities, they are important. It’s just good to have a good strong relationship with these folks.”

“The quality that we get at DSP is fantastic. The quality that we get from Selbyville and Georgetown is fantastic. We’ve got great coverage with what we’ve got,” said Mr. Steele. “We also feel that Millsboro could step in.”

The Millsboro-based SRO will be on a limited timeframe.

With referendum passage in mid-February that paved the way for a new Sussex Central High School, Millsboro Middle School will move from Millsboro’s town limits to the current Sussex Central High School building north of Millsboro. In turn, the existing Millsboro Middle School will become another elementary school. The projected construction schedule for the new school is about four years.

“So that is a limited position. We do not put SROs at elementary schools. They are only at secondary level schools,” said Mr. Steele. “It will only be there until the middle school goes out to Sussex Central. Then, we will not have that school resource officer position because there will be two elementary schools in Millsboro.”

Chief Calloway said he has an officer he is recommending for the SRO position. That recommendation will go through the personnel committee.

The officer chosen will attend training – NASRO (National Association of School Resource Officers) – that includes everything from counseling to case law as well as training in teaching students’ classes, Chief Calloway said.