District expands SRO program

By Gary Brode | gbrode@wcia.com, Anthony Antoine | aantoine@wcia.com

Published 06/24 2014 04:55PM

Updated 07/17 2014 01:30PM

Update: 10:05 pm, 7/16/14, Wednesday
DANVILLE -- Schools in the district will have more security. The school board voted Wednesday night to add a fourth school resource officer to the district for additional safety.

The last time an officer was added was 2011. They added two to the middle school. 75% of the officer's salary will come from the district. The officer will start in December.
Original: 4:55 pm, 6/24/14, Tuesday
DANVILLE -- The district is kicking fewer students out of school and police say officers in those schools are the main reason why. WCIA-3's Anthony Antoine finds out the board is now considering adding even more.

The district currently has three student resource officers. Parents and police officer say adding a fourth is a good idea. Now, it's up to the school board to make a decision.

"I think it's made a huge impact."

Christy Wagers is a teacher and parent.

"Not just in the attitudes of the students, but the staff. It's nice to know that if something happens, even if it's outside of school and the kids bring it into the school building, she's there to deal with that."

The district added two officers in 2011 to the middle schools, bringing the total to three. And, they're seeing success.

"We saw a reduction in expulsions and disciplinary cases at the district level."

They would like to improve on that. A fourth officer would roam from school to school and provide assistance if needed.

"Danville High School has a population base of 1,500 - 1,600 students. That's more than double the size of the two middle schools and we only have one school resource officer there."

But, for the public safety director, it's also about changing the culture in the schools.

"I'm passionate about the program because it has a major positive impact on our young people. Often, young people only have contact with police in the negative sense. We're changing that for it to be a positive effect."

School board members think it's a good idea, but money is the issue. They would be responsible for 70% of the officer's salary. The money is there right now, but they're not sure if it will be there long-term.

For Christy Wagers, something is better than nothing.

"Even if it's just a part-time person would be a good thing."

Fewer students expelled or suspended means a safer school. Board members plan to make a decision in August.

Champaign schools are just days away from deciding the future of its school resource officer program. The contract is up this year and the school board is reviewing it.

Parents got a chance to weigh in earlier this month. Most said they want the officers to stay. The decision will be made June 30.

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