District votes to fund SRO
The Baldwin Board of Education moved one step closer to funding a School Resource Officer Monday night.
The school board voted 5-0 to set aside $29,000 in their budget this year for the SRO. That money will pay for 50 percent of the salary, benefits and training of the SRO. The City of Baldwin City will pay the other half.
"I think that is a good step forward," Supt. Paul Dorathy said. "It is a cost to the district and we'll have to find that in the budget. I do feel very good that this helps the situation. Now that the district is putting its share in, then maybe the district will have some more control of that in some areas."
School Board President Alison Bauer hopes this will help build better relationships around the city.
"I think it's really important to build a relationship between junior high and high school students and the police department," Bauer said. "I think by building that relationship we nip problems in the bud before they can get started sometimes. That good relationship helps the administrators, students and the community."
Baldwin City Mayor Gary Walbridge was at the meeting to discuss the SRO. He believes not having an SRO would be bad for the city and the district.
"I think it's something that if we don't do, we are all foolish," Walbridge said. "It's a win-win situation and not just for the kids. It should be a win-win situation for the police department."
One of the main discussion topics was who would have control of the SRO from August to May. During the meeting, Walbridge gave his suggestion after talking to City Administrator Jeff Dingman.
"I think the school district should have control of the officer," Walbridge said. "Jeff and I want this thing to work."
School Board Member Lonnie Broers thought the school district should pick up its share of the cost to attain some control.
"If we're wanting control, I think we need to step up to the plate and pay our share," Broers said. "The city has picked up the cost the last few years and we didn't have the control we wanted."
Another problem that was discussed was how things would change from the current situation with the SRO. School Board Member Scott Lauridsen expressed his concern about what would change from what has happened in recent years, regarding problems with availability and evaluation.
"I think we all recognize the need for more communication," Lauridsen said. "That's easy to say, but what does it look like."
Walbridge told Lauridsen that one major change is new leadership on both sides of the issue.
"I think some of the biggest changes is new leadership," Walbridge said. "You are under new leadership and so are we."
City Council President Amy Cleavinger was also present at Monday's meeting. She said communication has been a problem in the past, but hopes it won't be in the future, especially regarding the SRO's performance.
"That's where the communication comes in that we have been talking about," Cleavinger said. "If we find out this person is being pulled out and is not at the district's disposal, then something will change."
The final discussion focused on the contract for the SRO and who would create it. After a brief talk, Lauridsen suggested gathering the committee back together that once worked on the SRO agreement.
"I think the plan is to have a committee come forth with a recommendation for a contract to the city and the school district," Lauridsen said. "I think the committee needs to be people that have a history with this."
On Tuesday, Dorathy said the committee will be looking at other district's contracts to help create one for Baldwin City.
"I think that committee is going to come back together to examine contracts from districts that already have something set in place," Dorathy said. "The committee will also examine and change that so it fits our local need."