MANLIUS — The Bureau Valley School District plans to hire a school resource officer this month through the Bureau County Sheriff’s Office.
On Tuesday, the school board approved an intergovernmental agreement with the county that will allow a sheriff’s deputy to be assigned the position at the expense of the district. The total cost for salary and benefits could total anywhere between $60,000 and $70,000 a year.
The officer will be based at the Manlius campus, home of Bureau Valley High School. However, Superintendent Eric Lawson said the officer will travel to other buildings in the district when needed for assistance.
“We’re very appreciative of Bureau County Sheriff Jim Reed for working with Bureau Valley. There is a need across the United States to ensure school safety. We want to take care of all of our students in the district and provide a sense of security,” Lawson said.
Aside from providing building security, the officer will be around for evening school activities and will be asked to contribute to class instruction when needed.
“We want that officer to feel they are a part of the school district. So any time they can pop into a class … we will use them. They won’t be the teacher in charge, but they will be asked to offer any experiences over their career that fits the educational environment,” Lawson said.
Reed has been supportive of this program, and said he wishes every school in Bureau County could afford to hire a full-time school resource officer.
“I think it’s important. It benefits all of us, not only Bureau Valley,” Reed said. “We’re very happy to be able to do this.”
During the summers, when school is not in session, the officer will switch hats and be reassigned as a road deputy for the sheriff’s office.
“They will help our coverage and response to calls. We will be able to have more feet on the ground,” Reed said.
The plan is to send a current deputy on staff to Bureau Valley, and hire a new officer to fill the open position through the sheriff’s office.
This process does pose for a slight staffing issue in the sheriff’s office, according to Reed. He said there’s currently a high demand to get people through the state’s officer training program, and Bureau County is not on the list until September.
Therefore, the sheriff’s office will be working with one less full-time officer until then. Not only that, but Reed said he currently has three other deputies on staff who are preparing to retire in the near future.
So the plan will be to get people through the training program as soon as possible so they can help fulfill the need.
Despite the staffing pinch, Reed said he’s happy to work with Bureau Valley and is prepared to work through the process until his crew is fully staffed once again.
In other news, the board:
• Accepted the retirement notice of Dean Bill as Bureau Valley Wyanet custodian.
• Accepted the resignation of Ann Taylor as Bureau Valley High School lead teacher.
• Approved the employments of Miranda Wetzel as Bureau Valley Junior High language arts teacher for the 2019-20 school year, Laura Nichols as Bureau Valley High School art teacher for the 2019-20 school year, and Scott Salisbury as Bureau Valley South assistant track coach.
• Approved Amber Entas as volunteer high school cheerleading coach.