READFIELD — A lengthy budget process in Regional School Unit 38 has come to an end after the board unanimously voted to approve the $21,700,178 proposed budget, a 7.6% increase from last year that will include a school resource officer. 

Putting a school resource officer in the budget had board members conflicted, with all supporting the move for safety reasons. Some board members, however, said they were worried about the cost of the position and lack of research surrounding the effectiveness of having a resource officer.

The decision to add a school resource officer follows the mass shooting last May at a public elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and active-shooter hoaxes in November that impacted 10 schools across Maine, including two in central Maine.

Board members debated the issue from January through the end of March. 

RSU 38 administrators budgeted $100,000 for the school resource officer, and with Wednesday night’s board approval of the budget, the position is officially in the budget for coming school year.

The entire $100,000 will not go directly to the resource officer, but cover a salary and costs associated with putting the officer into the schools.


Across Maine, the average annual salary for a school resource officer ranges between $50,000 to $60,000, according to a 2021 study conducted by the Muskie School of Public Policy at the University of Southern Maine.

Superintendent Jay Charette said he worked from January to April with other administrators in the district to make cuts to the budget and decide where the resource officer position would fit in.

Charette questioned if the upcoming budget year is the right one to add a resource officer.  

“In concept, it sounds great, but it’s difficult to say we are going to cut ed techs, but bring in (a school resource officer),” Charette said at the March 23 board meeting.

Charette had no additional comments this week. 

The next budget meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on May 10 at the Maranacook Community Middle School gymnasium at 2100 Millard Harrison Drive in Readfield, and the budget referendum is set for June 12.


With the approval of the position in the budget proposal, the school resource officer will start at the middle and high school in the combined buildings, but will be available to the elementary schools for help and outreach. 

Some teachers and a few members of the community have spoken at board meetings in support of or opposition to having a school resource officer. Teacher Robin Graziano asked the board what drove the conversation about having an officer at schools. Charette answered, “Safety is essential to students.” 

“Safety has risen to the forefront. It’s the basic need for all students,” Charette said at a January board meeting. “If you don’t feel safe, you can’t learn. Again, summarizing this, the basic thrust of this is around safety and what we can do to increase safety in the district.” 

According to estimates from the National School Resource Officer Organization, there are between 14,000 and 20,000 school resource officers at schools nationwide. In Maine, more than 40 of the state’s 257 school districts have resource officers, according to state Department of Education, which began tracking the number in 2018.

The Augusta Public Schools and Maine School Administrative District 49, which enrolls students from Albion, Benton, Clinton and Fairfield, employ an resource officer, while Maine School Administrative District 11, which serves Gardiner, Pittston, Randolph and West Gardiner, employed one before the city’s police force experienced staffing issues.

Regional School Unit 18, known as the China & Messalonskee School District, told parents and community members this week it plans to add a third school resource officer.


So far in Kennebec County, RSU 38 is the only district to contact the Sheriff’s Office about employing a resource officer in the upcoming school year.  

The officer would be placed at the combined Maranacook Community High School and Maranacook Regional Middle School buildings, but be around if needed — and for outreach opportunities — at the four elementary schools in the area.

In the summer and on vacations, the officer would return to the Kennebec County Sherriff’s Office.

Sheriff Ken Mason said school resource officers can help in many ways, including with mental health situations and by being available to students who need to talk or require help during stressful situations, including mental health episodes. 

There is not much research on school resource officers, but the Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee at the Muskie School of Public Policy conducted a study in 2019 on the use of resource officers in Maine. The study found it was difficult to measure the effectiveness of having school resource officers because there is no statewide training for the position and no clear policy for how the officers are to be used.

In the RSU 38 budget, the district cut a high school technology ed tech. A principal and a guidance counselor for the elementary schools, a nurse, a literacy specialists and an ed tech position were kept in the budget.


The additional money RSU 38 received from the recent mistake in state subsidies from the Maine Department of Education provided the district $365,738 and allowed it to consider returning previously cut positions to the budget.

The cut positions cost an estimated $166,000, according to officials.

The $21.7 million budget in RSU 38 represents a $1,538,906 increase from the last spending plan. The town allocation, the portion that includes the school resource officer and additional positions, is up 8.96%, an increase of $1,181,491 that brings the total to $14,364,150 in local contributions. 

The town allocation is split between the four towns in RSU 38: Manchester is to pay an additional 9.06%, or another $367,756; Mount Vernon another 7.72%, or $235,886; Readfield another 9.23%, or $342,932; and Wayne another 9.97%, or $234,915. 

The schools in RSU 38 include Maranacook Community High School, Maranacook Community Middle School, Manchester Elementary School, Readfield Elementary School, Mount Vernon Elementary School and Wayne Elementary School.

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