BELLE — The Maries County R-2 Board of Education decided in an Aug. 29 closed session to decline the School Resource Officer (SRO) candidate, the second one recommended by the city, because the …
BELLE — The Maries County R-2 Board of Education decided in an Aug. 29 closed session to decline the School Resource Officer (SRO) candidate, the second one recommended by the city, because the job applicant’s credentials were lacking.
“The issue was mostly discussion,” said Superintendent Dr. Lenice Basham. “There was no vote. The applicant didn’t meet the criteria outlined in the memorandum of understanding (MOU between the city and the school district).”
According to the MOU, the city committed to providing a full-time SRO without being pulled from the school. The contract doesn’t include a police car as the officer would not respond to outside emergencies but agreed to provide transportation to the Bland Middle School.
The officer will be commissioned, SRO certified, and provide less-than-lethal protection options. The officer will provide campus security and have radio capability. They would assist with discipline actions, proper ordinance and parking enforcement, staff and student drug awareness classes, friendly interaction, counseling, and on-campus lunch breaks.
The officer would also assist in creating an anonymous contact system, train and teach the campus layout to the entire police force, and work closely with administrators.
The district agreed to pay $34,000 ($18.75 hourly) for the officer and the city would provide any additional salary and full benefits.
“The council will increase the salary for an experienced SRO at no raise to the school,” according to the contract. “Our goal as the city of Belle is to provide our citizens and students a safe place to live, work, and attend school. Our families should be confident while their children are at school (that) they will be protected. The Belle City Council and police department would like to help provide protection from outside threats as well as internal bullying. We will provide a full-time resource officer every day the school is in session and will provide a substitute officer in the morning and afternoon in addition to the SRO, even if the school decides to use someone else’s SRO. The council would like to hire the perfect officer for the job, so we believe the city council and board of education should join together to review and interview candidates and hire one we all are confident with.”
The contract acknowledges the price of the SRO does not financially benefit the city budget, but is a service to the community.
“The SRO position will be a new hire. The city will provide an officer for summer school and any school events for additional cost. For example, salary for an officer is $750 weekly, so summer school would be an additional $1,500,” the contract read.
While working in the school district, the city asked that the officer be provided with a private office or location where private conversations can be held, school email, school radio frequency, a lockable area for personal items and equipment, a parking spot near the building for radio repeater in the car, and access to the school camera system.
Lastly, the city requested that the marshal or mayor handle any issues with the SRO.
If an issue isn’t handled to the board’s standards, the contract can be terminated with 30 days’ notice.
The school may pay the city quarterly or whatever is determined before the contract is fulfilled.
As the district is beginning its third week of the first semester, the city, marshal, and board have yet to agree on an SRO candidate to fulfill the city’s MOU obligation. However, Marshal Jerry Coborn said they are still advertising the position.
“We are still looking for applicants,” he said. “The two that are interested were Department of Corrections, but don’t have a post license and nobody else has put in for it. We still have it out on the websites, if anyone is interested they can apply online on the city’s website. There is a place they can download an application.
Or they can stop by the Marshal’s Office.”
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