SRO position lauded by city, school board
It seems as if the School Resource Officer position might be going too well right now.
About two weeks ago, representatives from the Baldwin City Council, Baldwin City Police Department and the Baldwin School District had their annual meeting to discuss the SRO position. Despite troubled times in the past between the groups, this meeting ran smoothly and all parties are in agreement with how the position and the contract.
"I felt like it was a very productive meeting and we discussed how we can make the program better," Supt. Paul Dorathy said. "We talked about some of the positive outcomes of the program. It is helping to build a positive relationship between the police department and our students."
City Council President Amy Cleavinger agreed.
"I thought it was a really good meeting," said Cleavinger. "We've got some work to do to get the SRO in the junior high and the grade schools. We want to get her with the younger kids, especially the junior high. Everyone wants her there. She's built such great rapport with the kids at the high school. It's been a great success, but we've got her spread thin."
In fact, the groups agreed that the SRO, Kim Springer, has been busy, maybe too busy. Board Member Scott Lauridsen reported at Monday's school board meeting that the SRO spent most of her time at Baldwin High School. She is supposed to split time between BHS and Baldwin Junior High School, while visiting the elementary schools also.
However, she has begun talking to more BHS students and they have began talking to her more. This has caused Springer to spend more time than contracted for at BHS.
"We had hoped she would have time to be at the high school, the junior high and she would be able to get out and do some programs at the elementary schools," Dorathy said. "That has happened to a point, but it's also come to a point where she is awfully busy at the high school and she's found time to spend time at the other buildings in the district."
Lauridsen said this is a good problem to have, because the BHS students are beginning to feel more comfortable around her.
"One of the big benefits of that position is that there is a law enforcement person that has contact with the students," Lauridsen said. "They don't feel intimidated by the uniform. They start bringing issues that may prevent bigger issues. It's a communication process. As they have more contact, some of the kids want to talk one-on-one and start confiding in them and talking about problems. It's kind of a slippery slope, because the more effective the program gets, the more they need with the students."
He said that the city suggested the school district hire another SRO, but the district officials want to get some data on how she is spending her time and if there are ways they can free her up to go visit other buildings first.
"I think the feedback from everybody was that the program is providing the benefits that we intended," Lauridsen said. "There are always issues and the issues are that there is more to do than the person is contracted to do. I think from the city's view is that we could use another one. I don't think anybody from the school district disagreed, but we didn't know where she was spending all of the time and if we could improve that. We just want some data on that time spent."