Archive for Thursday, June 4, 2009

Let’s get on same SRO page

Our View Editorial

June 4, 2009

We were thrilled when we heard Baldwin City Police Cpl. Kim Springer had been chosen by the Douglas County Crime Stoppers as its first-ever winner of the Distinguished Service Award.

Springer is certainly worthy of the honor. Her tireless efforts as the School Resource Officer are well documented. One only has to think about the lack of headlines on the front page of the Signal over the last few years about trouble at Baldwin High School. Those used to be the norm instead of the exception.

But she may be best known for instituting the SRO Hotline in the Baldwin School District that gave students and parents an opportunity to call and leave a voice mail, anonymously or not, about possible criminal activities that are going on. The program was a huge success, garnering 40 calls on average a month and 500 between the hours of 10 p.m. and 3 a.m., when students felt most safe to call.

The Crime Stoppers specifically lauded Springer for the hotline, which they called an extension of their own anonymous efforts, at the Baldwin City Council meeting Monday when they presented her the award. Again, we were thrilled.

But it was tarnished. Unfortunately at this point, Springer is the former SRO. The Baldwin School Board eliminated its half of the funding for the position recently because of budget cuts necessary to make up for reduced state funding.

We find that sad – and not a bit smart.

We understand the monetary constraints that caused the move. The district was facing a possible shortfall of $1 million. Budgets are tight everywhere. The city is tightening its belt, too. We all are. We all have to.

But do we cut insurance out of the budget to save money? Of course not. We can’t afford to do that. In essence, that’s one of the many facets that the SRO provides.

In this day and age, we can’t skimp on protecting our children. No, we never have thought the Baldwin School District was somewhere that the horrific tragedy of Columbine, where numerous students were gunned down by fellow students, could occur. But we didn’t think that could happen at an Amish school, either – but it did. The list of these types of tragedies has occurred is unfortunately long.

No, that can’t happen here. Or can it? Have we all forgotten about the student who made online threats against the Maple Leaf Festival several years ago, threatening the use of guns and pipe bombs? We hope not.

That didn’t happen, thanks in large part to a student alerting an SRO about the posting on a Web site. The situation was quickly defused. That’s how this works.

We were also encouraged Monday night to hear Mayor Ken Wagner pledge to examine budgets and see what could happen to restore the position. We hope that happens and we hope the school district will think again.

The SRO position here has unfortunately had a roller coaster history in regards to funding and who’s in charge.

The taxpayers are in charge and we need to demand that we have an SRO in place.

Comments

NanCrisp 5 years, 3 months ago

It’s increasingly obvious that our habit of loading all our social programs onto our schools has become critically burdensome to the goals of academic education. While the points made in the above editorial are valid, the question is whether the goals of law enforcement and crime prevention should be handled within the scope of our schools, or within the scope of city-provided protection (under the auspices of police/fire/etc).

While we are all clamoring for “Change!” in the throes of the worst economic melt-down of this country’s history, let’s begin by appropriately aligning our public expenditures. What are the legitimate expenditures for schools? That which advances children’s abilities to communicate effectively, calculate accurately, think critically, and apply thought processes to problem-solving. While it may be argued that some problem-solving abilities may be developed in some schoolchildren via access to a School Resource Officer, the primary purpose of such a position is to aid crime prevention and law enforcement, not to educate children. There is no doubt that SROs are effective to some degree, but the line should be clearly drawn that an SRO is an adjunct of the police department and not an educator. That line should be drawn by whose budget funds the position.

It’s easy to see why we have allowed our public schools to stretch so far outside the boundaries of true education. Social programs have much more difficulty in gaining the approval of the taxpayers than do school programs. The best way to get your social program implemented is to somehow tie it into “education,” mount a marketing campaign to convince taxpayers and, especially, the media that schools should provide these services, make it “for the kids” and you’re in! As we talk more and more about sustainability, let’s think about how sustainable it’s going to be to continue to water down real education by allocating dwindling resources to these pseudo-educational social agendas. The cost in global competitiveness is already clearly seen as U.S. citizens fall further and further behind while we focus on social conditioning over academics.

Throughout our country, it is obvious that academic education is taking more and more of a backseat to social programs in our public schools. Perhaps the majority of U.S. citizens do believe that social conditioning is more important than academic education. If that seems valid to most taxpayers, and most taxpayers want to pay for public schools to focus on such things, that is their choice. Public schools can continue to offer more and more social programs and less and less academic subjects. Those families with children who approve of this “curriculum” will participate in public school, and those who prefer a broader base of academics will choose private schools or homeschooling in order to obtain an appropriate scope of education in the more traditional sense of the word.

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Denny 5 years, 3 months ago

"That didn’t happen, thanks in large part to a student alerting an SRO about the posting on a Web site. The situation was quickly defused. That’s how this works."

This is false. The child showed the website to their parent. The parent contacted the principal of the school. The SRO was not involved. But I get your point.

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Denny 5 years, 3 months ago

I withdraw that...after further research the parent did contact the SRO at th school involved. However, it wasn't the student.

Apologies.

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Stacy Napier 5 years, 3 months ago

I am sure the parent would have conacted the police dept if there had not been an SRO.

I agree with Nan. The police are the responsibilty of the City. If there is that big of a problem that we need a cop in the school full time (which she was not anyway) then they should be there.

The school can be part of their normal patrol duties. Having a cop there full time in a city with only 7-8 cops total is a waste of anyones tax dollars. That is putting %14 of the resources into just the school. Kind of like having a Police Chief that does not go out and patrol. How much administrative stuff is there for only 7 officers when one of them is you.

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AncientBaldwin 4 years, 11 months ago

Evidently someone had my post removed. I have not come here to be either combative or vulgar. I set out only to participate in a discussion. I had a take of a different angle on this story, essentially asking for discussion and input over issues that weigh on my mind. It was a lengthy post which I do not have the desire to re-type.

My apologies to whoever sought to eliminate my post, for whatever reason, and for your edification, I'll not be returning.

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