Lawrence school board to hear report on school resource officer program
photo by: Mackenzie Clark/Journal-World File Photo
The Lawrence school board will soon learn how much it may cost to keep its school resource officer program.
The board on Monday will receive a report about the Lawrence Police Department program that puts officers in schools, including how much it would potentially cost the school district to retain those services if the City of Lawrence chooses to quit funding it. Ron May, the district’s director of safety and security, and Rick Henry, the district’s director of secondary schools, are set to deliver the report.
In July, city officials proposed that the school district begin contributing funding for the program during a heated discussion. Some school board members said the request was unfair because the school district was facing a tight budget and it did not have the taxing authority to raise revenue to pay for the program. City officials at the time noted that they too were under budget pressure and similar funding splits were in place in nearby communities.
During the July meeting, Board President Melissa Johnson and Vice President Kelly Jones also questioned whether the program was worth keeping. Jones said that studies have suggested SRO programs can increase minority students’ risk of being arrested, which could result in a path to future criminal activity.
The report on Monday is set to include research and survey data on the Lawrence program. As of Sunday afternoon, that report had not been made available to the public.
The school resource officer program currently has four officers. Two officers are stationed at each high school in Lawrence, and each officer also spends some time at the district’s middle schools.
In other business, the board will consider authorizing five new courses to be included in the 2020-2021 high school curriculum.
The proposed additions include two Spanish language courses, two biology courses and an advanced physical fitness and weight training course.
The board also will consider authorizing the school year calendars for the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years. The proposed calendars follow a similar format of previous school years, including placing spring break on the second week of March to align with the University of Kansas’ spring break period.
The board will meet at 6 p.m. Monday at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive. Prior to the regular meeting, the board will meet in executive session at 5:30 p.m. to discuss a matter pertaining to a student. Full agendas can be found on the district’s website, usd497.org.
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