School board vote on 911 P25 funding fails

Published 10:23 am Wednesday, November 16, 2022

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By JOYANNA LOVE | Managing Editor

A vote for the Chilton County Board of Education to enter an agreement with the Chilton County 911 Board to pay $95,000 for 10 years for use of the P25 emergency countywide communications system failed on Nov. 15.

Board President Pam Price, Vice President Chris Smith and board member Jacqueline Sullivan voted against entering the agreement. Board members Brad Carter and Lori Patterson voted in favor of the agreement. Board members Diane Calloway and Keith Moore were absent.

The school system had previously been using the partially constructed system under a contract for $42,600 per year for 10 years. This contract was terminated when a new request was made by 911 because of additional infrastructure costs needed to complete the system. Use of the P25 emergency countywide communications system gives school bus drivers direct communication with the 911 dispatchers. The Board of Education has already spent around $480,000 on P25 radios.

The $95,000 per year for 10 years requested amount was a decrease from the updated request of $130,000 a year.

During the Nov. 15 meeting, Smith said he would like to “consider the P25 support again at a different rate at the next board meeting.”

“I would like it to be put on here, but I would like for it to be put on here for January when we sit and meet with them on the SROs and all because I think it involves both,” Price said.

She mentioned that school systems in other counties that have agreements with 911 for emergency communications “get their SROs at a cheaper price than what we get.”

“We seem to be paying 80%, where others are paying 20 or its free,” Price said. “I think it is a table discussion that we need to have with the commissioners and the city law enforcements.”

Smith said the 911 funding is a separate thing because it is a specific program.

After being acknowledged by the board president, Commissioner Allen Williams responded to Smith’s comment.

“They are tied together, in the opinions of most of the commission, they are definitely tied together — the funding for the SROs and this P25 system,” Williams said.

“I think so, too,” Price said.

The Chilton County Sheriff’s Office is providing five SROs this school year. Clanton Police Department is providing one. Jemison Police Department is providing two. Thorsby and Maplesville police departments each provide one SRO.

The school system is paying each department $47,000 per officer toward the SRO’s salary for the 178 days they will work for the school system.

When the contracts for this school year were approved in August, Price said work on updated contracts should begin in January for the 2023-2024 school year, so it is not left until the last minute.

Board of Education members asked project coordinator Trae Caton questions during a 911 Board meeting on Nov.10

Carter said he was thankful to the 911 Board and the Chilton County Commission for their work on this.

“Trae Caton has been wonderful,” Carter said.

Price agreed.

Each of the local governments is contributing funding to the P25 emergency countywide communications system as part of its agreement with the Chilton County 911 Board.