By Charlie Keegan, Charlotte County Reporter – email

PUNTA GORDA, FL – The Punta Gorda City Council agreed Wednesday to keep paying $100,000 a year to
fund two school resource officers. In an effort to save money, city staff recommended turning the positions over to the sheriff’s office.

But the council decided the city should police the schools within its limits and says there’s no monetary value on the work the school resource officers do.

The police chief says the relationships officers build with students at Charlotte High School and Punta Gorda Middle School carry over to the streets, and help reduced crime in the city.

“We understand the importance of meeting budget obligations, but certainly it’s rewarding to see the council and school board and our community members value our program that we’ve worked hard to build,” said police chief Butch Arenal.
City staff will continue to look at other areas to make cuts to meet an anticipated budget gap next fiscal year.