North Pike officials are adding to their employee ranks for the next school year.

Superintendent Dennis Penton recommended that the district hire its own school resource officer and secure a car for the officer.

Up until this year, the district split the cost with the Pike County Sheriff’s Office. After James Brumfield took office in January, he sought to end the agreement with the district almost immediately, but later relented and said he would continue the agreement through the end of the school year.

School board members sought to talk with PCSO officials about continuing the program in February and March, but the district’s focus shifted once schools were closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic in March.

“If we hire our own officer, we have control,” Penton said. “The officer will work with the sheriff’s office, but we won’t have to go through the sheriff’s office. Our officer will have arrest powers.”

High school principal Scott Hallmark told board members that the district will have to apply to the Department of Public Safety to run its own department and hire a certified officer.

“There’s some paperwork, but it’s not a real difficult process,” Hallmark said.

Board attorney Jim Keith said many school districts are moving toward  having their own officers independent of city or county law enforcement agencies.

“It’s a better way to provide security,” Keith said.

Penton also recommended to the board that the district create a personnel director and Title IX administrator position.

Penton said the holder of the $50,000-per-year position would perform duties like handling grievances, checking certifications, assigning discipline and handling matters such as Family Medical Leave Act requests.

Many of those types of matters have been handled by business manager Tina Griffin up to now.

“Employee issues are going to be some of the most significant issues  you’ll have to deal with going forward,” Keith said.

Another personnel change will adds the title of lead nurse in the district, a role in which the occupant will manage health records, train the other nurses in new protocols, maintain lists of substitute nurses and  serve as the district’s contact with the county Health Department.

The lead nurse position will get a $2,500 salary supplement and be filled by Becky Fitzgerald.

All of the personnel requesets were approved unanimously.

In other bsuiness, the board:

• Granted permission for the district to apply to participate in a program that provides free breakfast and lunch to every child, regardless of family income.

• Approved a series of education plans for federal programs.

• Approved the 2021 budget.

• Accepted the resignations of De’Lisha Lowery as teacher and Morgan Pickard as teacher assistant.

• Hired teacher assistants Victoria Smith and Sarah Brock; middle school attendance secretary Erin Blalock; kitchen assistant Anita Alexander; interventionist Victoria Frye; teachers Ashley Jackson and Ashtan Prather; junior high football coach Joe Taylor Jr.; part-time buss driver Barry Lomax; and a slate of substitute teachers and cafeteria workers.

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