District 303 extends contract for school resource officers, adds stay-at-home provision
St. Charles police officers will remain stationed in District 303 middle schools and high schools for the next three years, with all associated costs now paid entirely by the district.
Since 2011, school resource officers have been placed at St. Charles North and East high schools to serve as liaisons between the district and the police department. The number of officers increased from two to four this academic year, allowing regular police coverage to extend into Thompson and Wredling middle schools.
Those services will remain in effect through the 2022-23 academic year, per a three-year contract approved by the school board Monday.
The deal, which was ratified by the city council last month, calls for the district to reimburse the police department's personnel costs for 176 school days, or 68% of the salary and benefits of each officer. That amounts to a total of roughly $402,945 in 2020-21.
School-related overtime expenses incurred by the officers also will be covered by the district. When school is not in session, they will be assigned to patrol or investigation duties within the police department, Chief James Keegan said.
Up to this point, the city had been covering costs for two school resource officers in exchange for using district-owned land to build a water tower, officials said. That payment deal expires at the end of this academic year.
The new agreement also includes a provision that allows the contract to be altered or suspended if schools remain closed for an extended period of time, such as in the case of the coronavirus pandemic.
Since schools shut down in March, the police department has been working closely with the district to maintain its role as a "safe haven" and provide a sense of comfort amid the uncertainty, Keegan said.
The officers plan to keep up school liaison duties through the end of the academic year, officials said, including assisting with academic issues, monitoring buildings, checking in with students and families, and even making home visits.
"In some ways, (their services) are as critical, if not more critical, in times like this when we're not in as close contact," Superintendent Jason Pearson said.
Officers could assume similar responsibilities should the stay-at-home order remain in effect this fall or be reinstated in the future, he said, noting the contract offers "quite a bit of flexibility" for such discussions.
"I think it's important, as we still have families in crisis, that we ... have the opportunity to use them as a resource," board President Carolyn Waibel said. "That's an added bonus."