Archive for Thursday, May 15, 2008

Board talks adding school officer

May 15, 2008

Basehor-Linwood school board members are considering placing a police officer in Basehor-Linwood schools.

Superintendent Bob Albers brought the idea of a school resource officer up as a discussion item at Monday night's meeting. While the idea is only in the preliminary stages, board members agreed it was something that should be explored further.

"I have been in conversations with both the Basehor Police Department and the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Department about the possibility of a grant to help fund a school resource officer, which is a sworn in police officer that would be present in our buildings during the day to help us with areas of truancy, student management and things dealing with law enforcement," Albers said.

Basehor Police Chief Lloyd Martley said the main purpose of an SRO is to increase the exposure of law enforcement to the student body through instruction, counseling and the enforcement of the law. It also provides students with an outlet if they need to speak with a police officer for any reason.

"It helps build up rapport with the students," Albers said. "The experience I've had with student resource officers in the past has been really good."

While the county currently has a truancy officer made possible through a grant, said Sandy Guidry, director of curriculum and instruction, the grant expires every couple of years and there's a period of time where the county does not have a truancy officer until the decision is made to renew the grant. Plus, the truancy officer must cover all of the schools in the county.

"Each time this grant runs out, we have these holes and the principals can tell you that truancy skyrockets," Guidry said. "This grant ends in October. Right now, county commissioners are not willing to support this financially unless it's done through a grant for a truancy officer."

Financing the idea is also something Albers and board members would have to work out before bringing the SRO issue for a vote. Albers said he believed that in his past experience, a grant would pay for the officer's salary - about $15 to $20 per hour. If the district could not obtain a grant, it would be responsible for this cost.

Board president Randy Cunningham said that perhaps that money could be better spent on placing paraprofessionals in crowded classrooms, but board member Eric Dove said he has also seen positive results from having an SRO in schools. He said many young children may have negative views of police officers because their only exposure to them is watching the officers pull their parents over and issue tickets so an officer's presence in a school can provide a more positive view.

"I saw this work really well in an elementary school in Olathe," Dove said. "It changes how the kids think about a police officer."

While some board members questioned the readiness of the district, principals present at the meeting agreed that an SRO would definitely be an asset.

"At the secondary level, I think it's something we need to look at," Basehor-Linwood Middle School principal Mike Boyd said. "It's not the same world it was a few years ago."

Since some of the district schools are out of the Basehor city limits, the jurisdiction issue was also discussed as well as which law enforcement agency to go with.

"Maybe we need to move forward," Cunningham said. "I don't know whether a Basehor police officer can go to Linwood and knock on their door. If there's a jurisdiction issue, I would think the Sheriff's Department would be better."

It was thought that if a Basehor police officer was the SRO and was hired as Basehor-Linwood school district staff, it might give that officer jurisdiction outside the city limits, however, Martley said this is not exactly the case. The officer could go to those schools outside of the city limits for education purposes, but if any criminal activity were to occur in the schools, the Sheriff's Department would have to be called.

With the school bond issue and possible future plans to annex south of U.S. Highway 24-40, in a few years, the only school that would be out of the Basehor Police Department's jurisdiction would be Linwood Elementary School, Martley said. But, since an SRO's duties change from school to school, this may not present a problem. Martley said on the elementary school level, the officer's presence is more of an awareness and education point while the law enforcement aspect of the job is usually only needed when working with the older students.

"When Chief Martley and officer Pant are at the games, the interaction between the students and those two officers is nice to watch," school board member Pat Jeannin said. "I can only imagine what it would be like to have that in the school everyday."

Martley said the Basehor officers interact with the students on a regular basis and are already involved with the school district, so they are extremely interested in supplying an officer to the district. However, there are still some issues to be worked out.

"The SRO is a great avenue to go down and I think the school district should go that direction, but it's just a matter of who they should put in there," Martley said.

Action items:

¢ Met in executive session for 10 minutes to discuss confidential business transactions.

¢ Approved, 7-0, the transportation contract for Easton Bus Services for one year.

¢ Approved, 7-0, the soccer bleacher low bid from All Star Bleachers in the amount of $24,754.96.

¢ Approved, 7-0, capital outlay expenditures.

¢ Approved, 7-0, the contract for the LES construction project in the amount of $607,255.

¢ Approved, 7-0, the contract for the Glenwood Ridge Elementary School construction project in the amount of $1,646,863.

¢ Met in executive session for 30 minutes to discuss matters pertaining to non-elected personnel and negotiations.

¢ Approved, 7-0, the appointment of Lindsay Black, GRES, Kyla Dominick, BLMS science, Roger Hays, Basehor Elementary School, Whitney Mitchell, GRES, Ruth Gore, BLMS mathematics, Danielle Dunivan, BLMS custodian, Tamara Gensler, Basehor-Linwood High School custodian and Nancy Isabell, BLHS custodian; resignations for Martin Foster, BLHS custodian, Gary Horton, BLMS custodian, Ryan Higgins, BLHS mathematics and Jennifer Gilbert, GRES reading aide; retirement of Phil Hutchinson, food service.

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