May 3, 2010

Educational Facilities Officer positions to be cut

In his 2011 fiscal budget, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) proposed police officer reductions as a means to alleviate the $779 million county deficit. Reductions in police officer positions are expected to save $2 million, according to county spokesman Patrick Lacefield. Forty total police officer positions will be eliminated, and 16 of 33 officers in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) will be cut, according to a Montgomery County news release.

All 25 MCPS high schools have one serving Educational Facilities Officer (EFO). This individual plays a role in fostering relationships between students, addressing school security issues and collaborating with MCPS and the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD). Several middle schools, such as Martin Luther King Middle School in the Germantown District and Argyle Middle School in the Wheaton District, also have EFOs. The MCPD and the County Council have not yet decided which EFO positions will be cut. "At this time, we don't have any specific information," Assistant Principal Myriam Rogers said.

Due to the prevalence of at-risk teenage behaviors as well as MCPS's burgeoning gang problem, EFOs are becoming more involved in protecting the school community. On April 28, 2009, Springbrook High School students Anthony Torrence and Yonata Getachew attempted to detonate a bomb and set off a fire with the intent to harm staff members and deface school property. They were stopped when Torrence revealed the pair's plans to EFO Rodney Barnes.

The elimination of EFO positions may have an adverse effect on MCPS schools. "It would have some impact on developing relationships with students," Blair's EFO Officer Darryl Marshall explained. "Some students come to talk to the EFOs, so we are there to deal with certain issues." Like Rogers, Marshall has not heard which officers will be cut. "They have not come to us about what schools will be selected or affected," he said. SOURCE: Silver Chips

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