Kaysville mayor's letter about paying for school resource officers irks Layton leaders

Jun 15 2011 - 11:30pm

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Kaysville Mayor Steve Hiatt
Kaysville Mayor Steve Hiatt

LAYTON -- A letter from Kaysville Mayor Steve Hiatt to Davis School District has annoyed Layton leaders. Hiatt's letter suggests the Davis district ask Layton to provide a school resource officer for a junior high school in Kaysville.

With Centennial Junior High to open in Kaysville this fall, Hiatt recommends Layton be approached to provide an SRO at Fairfield Junior High, also in Kaysville.

Hiatt's rationale: Kaysville cannot afford to provide an SRO for each of its five secondary schools, and the majority of students attending Fairfield Junior High, despite its being in Kaysville, live in Layton.

Kaysville, by not having to place an SRO in Fairfield Junior High, would save $25,000 to $30,000 a year, Hiatt said. Cities pay to equip the officer, but share with the district the cost of the officer's salary and benefits.

However, Hiatt's proposal, shared in a May 20 letter to District Assistant Superintendent Paul Waite, annoyed Layton leaders, who dubbed Hiatt's concept as "absurd" and a proposal that has "not been well thought out."

Layton officials are also surprised at the lack of communication Hiatt has shown, referring to how he sent a letter to the school district without contacting them.

"Since the majority of the students at Fairfield Junior High are from Layton city, I might suggest (the district) approach Layton city to provide the SRO for Fairfield Junior High, as Kaysville city will be providing the SRO for Centennial Junior High," Hiatt stated in the May 20 letter.

Hiatt said that, with 79 percent of the new Centennial Junior High's student population from Kaysville and only 20.8 percent from Layton, the city council has determined it is the best allocation of Kaysville's resources to move the SRO at Fairfield Junior High to Centennial.

At Fairfield Junior High, the percentage of students living in Kaysville is just more than 13 percent, while more than 60 percent reside in Layton. The remaining students are from other cities in the county.

Layton Police Chief Terry Keefe refers to Hiatt's rationale of having Layton cover Fairfield as absurd.

"The students that have attended Northridge High for years and years have come from all over Davis County," Keefe said.

Layton has never thought of billing the cities that have students attending there, he said.

The underlying fact is that Northridge High is in Layton and it is the responsibility of Layton to provide service to the school and its students, Keefe said.

Municipalities should not be determining what city is to provide service to a particular school or business based on its customers, or in this case, students who attend the school, Keefe said.

Keefe is equally frustrated at the lack of communication between Hiatt and Layton.

"I have heard nothing from Kaysville city. I was first made aware of this by the Davis School District," he said.

Hiatt is quick to defend his plan, although he concedes he should have brought Layton to the table early on to discuss the situation and for that he apologized to Keefe on Wednesday.

"Trying to balance the impact to the taxpayers with those using the services hardly seems absurd to me," Hiatt said.

"Having said that, we could have done a better job communicating our intentions with the district and Layton city."

Layton City Manager Alex Jensen said the thought process Hiatt is using in this particular instance is not one his city would consider.

"It's been customary, if a school is in your community, you provide the services," he said.

"I assume they are wanting to avoid expenses somehow. But everybody is in the same situation, trying to be mindful of what their expenditures are. It doesn't appear to be a well-thought-out proposal."

Cities don't control how the district allocates the school populations or where school boundaries are placed, Jensen said.

Not funding an SRO for Fairfield Junior High is in the best interest of Kaysville residents, Hiatt said, where Kaysville and Layton each fund SROs for five secondary schools, each having three junior highs and two high schools.

"If we move forward, with no help, we'll be providing as many officers as our neighbors to the north that have double the population and double the property tax rate," Hiatt said of Layton.

Davis School District officials are hoping a solution will be reached before the school year begins this fall.

"We would hope there be some decision made and that an SRO would be in the school," said district spokesman Chris Williams.

One possible solution may be for the Davis County Sheriff's Office to provide the SRO.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Sgt. Susan Poulsen said that is an idea the sheriff's office is entertaining, but has made no commitment to.

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