Mayor: Santa Rosa City Schools’ resource officer pilot program won’t be ready in time for next school year

In an interview with The Press Democrat on Wednesday, Santa Rosa Mayor Natalie Rogers said the holdup boils down to a stew of unanswered questions.|

A school resource officer pilot program won’t be ready to implement at Santa Rosa City Schools in time for the next school year, Santa Rosa Mayor Natalie Rogers said.

And budget constraints are partly to blame.

During a City Council meeting Tuesday night, Rogers gave an update on returning resource officers to Santa Rosa schools. City and school officials formed an ad hoc committee over the summer to collaborate on solutions to a perceived rise in school violence, including the on-campus fatal stabbing of a 16-year-old Montgomery High School student March 1, 2023.

Rogers said the committee — made up of Rogers, City Council members Dianna MacDonald and Jeff Okrepkie, and trustees Jeremy De La Torre, Omar Medina and Alegría De La Cruz — has since met regularly to discuss and establish a school resource officer program.

In December, city officials said it could take up to six months for a program to roll out — but it will likely be longer.

A working group made up of staff “has been tasked with developing (a preliminary agreement), and setting the foundation necessary for implementing a pilot program...” she said. “But due to the timing of the school year, an SRO program by August is not feasible.”

“During the ad hoc meetings, school representatives acknowledged there are not sufficient funds for them to support such a program, and the rolling out of a program,” she added.

In an interview with The Press Democrat on Wednesday, Rogers said the holdup boils down to a stew of unanswered questions, including: Who will fund the pilot program? How long will it last? Which schools will get SROs?

“People think that the SRO officers have been there and that's not the case,” she said. “We actually have to hire officers. We have to make sure they have a process for training. It's just so much more than just putting bodies there. Because we have to make sure that we replace those bodies too.”

While the debate over the role of SROs has been playing out among school board members and parents, the question of who pays for them has stumped city and school officials, with both saying it’s not within their respective budgets.

“I know that the funding is a big thing for everyone,” Rogers said. “Everyone has challenges in their budgets right now. But the city is willing to partner with the school district in looking at alternative ways for funding.”

However, she added, those unanswered questions likely need to be decided on before they can apply for grant funding.

She added that even if the working group and ad hoc committee approve an agreement, that doesn’t mean the school board will agree.

“I don’t have a date,” she said in regard to a timeline for the program. “We're still moving forward and we're still working on it.”

You can reach Staff Writer Alana Minkler at 707-526-8531 or On X (Twitter,) @alana_minkler.

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