For the past two school years, the Seymour R-II School District has contracted with the Webster County Sheriff’s Department for the full-time services of a school-resource officer (SRO).
Beginning with the upcoming school year and for the two years after that, the local school will contract with the city of Seymour and, specifically, the Seymour Police Department, for its SRO.
The end result is a savings of $32,000.
Per the current contract with the sheriff’s department, the school’s cost for SRO services was just over $189,000.
Per the new contract approved last Thursday night by the Seymour R-II Board of Education, the new three-year cost is $157,983.12.
In the first year of the contact, which includes the cost of a vehicle for the SRO, the price tag is $69,982.34.
The cost for the second year is $43,460.94, while the cost for year three is $44,539.84.
Seymour Police Chief Steven Pogue appeared before the school board at Thursday’s meeting, answering a variety of questions from board members.
Pogue noted that the city’s contract resembled the county’s model in most ways.
“Will you provide an officer for summer school?” board member Heidi Young asked.
“No,” Pogue said. “Our SRO only will work during the regular school year.
“However, this person also is a member of my force. In the summer, he’ll have a city shift. And I’ve got someone on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We are just a phone call away, and during summer school, my officers, as well as myself, will be covering and visiting the school on a frequent basis.”
Regular hours each school day for the SRO will be from 7:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
The school district also will receive officer coverage at extracurricular events as part of the contract.
“Some nights at a ballgame, it may not be the SRO at the event, but I will have an officer at all events where you are seeking one,” Pogue said.
He also noted that the new SRO will carry a county commission, per an agreement with Webster County Sheriff Roye Cole, so the officer can travel outside of the city limits to handle school-related duties, such as truancy or supervision on bus routes.
The contract notes that the SRO will begin his or her duties on Aug. 25.
Board member Kim Wilkins asked Pogue how the new SRO will be hired.
“We plan to go through a thorough interview process,” Pogue said.
“Will the school be a part of this process?” she asked.
“Yes,” Pogue responded. “This is a person who will work in your school. We had planned to have Mr. Richards be a part of the interview process. And if someone from your board wants to be a part of that, I can’t see there being a problem with that.”
Members of the school board were unanimous in wanting a board representative as part of the hiring process.
Pogue said that when the details of the SRO agreement were put together by the Seymour Board of Aldermen, the group assigned to interview SRO candidates and hire the SRO included himself, Cole, Richards, City Administrator Hillary Gintz, William Pogue as a representative of the Seymour Board of Aldermen and a representative of the school board.
School officials approved this plan.
Wilkins then was named as the school board’s member to interview and hire the SRO.
When the previous SRO was hired two years ago, Wilkins was the school board’s liaison.
“Are you needing a vote on this now?” Richards asked Pogue.
“Yes,” he responded. “We want to get this process going as quick as possible. The start of the new school year is less than three months away, so we’d like to immediately start advertising the job, drawing in applications and then setting up interviews.
“Then we have to hire this person and get them trained for service at the school.”
The school board voted 6-0 to contract with the city for its SRO for the next three years, per the terms of the contract presented by Pogue. (Board member Debbie Baker arrived at the meeting after the vote.)
“We’ll start advertising the position next week, and we will keep in touch with you, Steve and Kim, letting you see our applications, then having you present for all of the interviews,” Pogue concluded.
“Thank you. We’re excited about working with the school in the future.”