To ensure that student resource officers continue to receive compensation during the 2016-17 academic year, District U46 needs to consider contract proposals at the board's Sept. 27 meeting.
The measure is part of the district's annual negotiation process, in which an agreement is established with four municipalities to provide policing services at U46 middle and high schools.
Under the proposed contracts, the total number of salaries impacted include seven student resource officers for the City of Elgin, two for the Village of Bartlett, three for the Village of Streamwood and two for the Village of South Elgin, all of which increased from $884,228.60 to $905,409, or $21,180.
"The contracts present the salary increases for the officers as we pay a percentage of that, not the full amount but their increase," said John Heiderscheidt, director of school safety and culture. “We have an increase in cost of about 3.2 percent overall from the four municipalities. When you combine them all together, there were increases in each place for their salaries."
The added cost can be attributed to increased hourly overtime and an interest for more police presence at events, officials said. In doing so, the overtime/event security budget will increase from $79,500, as is, proved last school year by $500 for each school and $1,000 for football stadiums, for an added cost of approximately $89,500, or $10,000.
"With their salary increasing, we also have an increase in our costs for our events as overtime costs increase,” Heiderscheidt said. “We got real tight last year about barely making a budget, and I’d really prefer that we have a contingency for that budget. If we have things that happen in the community, we need more police officers and that’s unfortunately but if that is a reality, then I would like a little room on that.”
Part of renewal process requires that changes in contractual language see approval by the municipalities. Of the amendments requested include removing the student resource officer responsibility of enforcing applicable district policies and procedures, adding a statement to the duties and responsibilities to reiterate how officers are not school disciplinarians, and will not enforce the district's student code of conducts; and deleting the phrase "where applicable" as camera systems are now installed in all U46 schools, the contract proposals state.
Board member Phil Costello questioned the role that student resource officers will play in schools, given the proposed changes in contractual language.
“I guess I’m missing if they’re doing all this much less, do we need as much coverage?” he asked.
Heiderscheidt explained that student resources officers not being asked to do less in schools, they’re just not acting as school disciplinarians.
“Actually the student resource officer program has been moving in this direction,” he said. “To make it clear that we’re not involving our officers in removing kids from class or dealing with kids swearing or dealing with those kinds of issues of the defiance of the school rules. Officers should be involved in law violations, of reporting crimes at schools, thefts is our biggest crime. We’re just making it very clear where we all stand.”
Board member Cody Holt said it must be noted how much work goes into making sure the district is able to employ the student resource officer program and said it makes a difference.
“I think it’s a very important thing that we have in our schools,” he said.
To date, all four municipalities have approved the proposals as a package.
The U46 Board of Education will hold a vote on student resource officer contract renewals at the Monday meeting.