Commission asks school districts to pay for new cars

Updated: Sep 9, 2021

MOUND CITY – On Monday, Aug. 30, the Linn County Commissioners signed letters addressed to the superintendents of Prairie View USD 362, Jayhawk USD 346, and Pleasanton USD 344.

The letters asked the school districts to help the county with the school resource officer (SRO) positions by purchasing new vehicles for the officers.

The letter pointed out that each vehicle would cost $36,600 and the “upfit,” markings –communication devices, lights and emergency equipment – would cost $12,200, or about $48,800 each. The county requested that the school districts pay for the cars alone and the county would pay for the additional items.

Pleasanton was asked to pay for one car, Jayhawk two cars and Prairie View three cars. Those number correspond to the number of buildings that are in each district.

The letter suggested that this was a way for the school districts to show the community their support of the program. While the county is suggesting that the school districts can budget one-third of the price of a car per year toward these cars, it is unclear if the county wants the schools to start this in their budget next year and then new cars will be replaced in three years or if the county is purchasing new vehicles now.

These letters appear to be a follow up to a commission meeting on July 12. At that meeting Linn County Commission Commissioner Jim Johnson told the superintendents that he was instrumental in getting this meeting to happen, not because he was against the program but it has been brought to the commission’s attention by the county’s insurance carrier that it is a liability issue to the county.

He also noted that the SRO program was expensive and he was wanting to know if the superintendents would be interested in helping out any with the cost.

At that meeting, superintendents told the commissioners how tight their budgets were this year because of the pandemic and that their budgets were capped unlike the county’s. They had told the commissioners that they only part of their budget that could possibly help with the SRO officers would be capital outlay.

Commissioner Danny McCullough said since the county had made the investment of purchasing cars for the officers several years ago when the program started that maybe the school districts could help with purchasing cars. It was also brought up that initially the school districts had kicked in some money for the cars.

After the discussion, the superintendents made no commitment. Prairie View Superintendent Rex Bollinger said that he would have to take that to his school board.

At the same meeting, Linn County Counselor Gary Thompson explained that the county insurance company, Kansas County Association Multiline Pool (KCAMP) had asked the county to ask the school districts to discuss liability of the SRO officers with their insurance carriers. Nothing was mentioned in the letter about the liability issue.

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