LA CYGNE – The Prairie View USD 362 took no action on Monday, Sept. 13, after learning that the Linn County Commission had sent a letter to the school district asking that the district pay for a new car for each school resource officer (SRO). Prairie View currently has 3 SRO’s, one in each building of the district.
Superintendent Rex Bollinger reported that he read about the letter to county school superintendents in the newspaper before he received the letter from commissioners. The letter from county commissioners’ requests that school districts in the county pay $36,000 towards vehicles for student resource officers provided by the sheriff’s office.
Bollinger said he was further frustrated that the letter requesting $108,000 from Prairie View district arrived after the 2021-22 school budget was published.
Prairie View paid $25,000 each towards the current three SRO vehicles in 2013-2014 to the Linn County Treasurer from capital outlay funds under the equipment heading, according to Board Clerk Rita Noel.
Before that year, Prairie View had formed its own police department with one officer, Dick George, who was housed at the high school. Bollinger said his research showed the cost to outfit one officer with salary, uniform, gear, and training came in at $42,000, but did not include a vehicle.
Board Member Brian Uphoff asked if USD 362 provided new car funds, would it be the owner of the vehicles.
The superintendent said the letter did not address that, but added, “We are donating for professional services.”
Board Member Brad Heide observed that the previous request for funding came seven or eight years ago. “Now they want to replace the vehicles on a three-year schedule.” His concern was that the “money spent won’t be spent on vehicles used by our own SROs. I don’t want to provide $36,000 and have our SRO drive an eight-year-old car.”
Board Member Brad Stainbrook said, “I’d like to see a proposed contract to have a stated purpose and a scope of work.”
Board Member Russell Pope asked if any other districts had acted. He also asked what “in near term if not now” meant, referring to the commissioner’s letter.
Bollinger answered, “My understanding is payment can be paid now or over the course of three years.”
“If we don’t pay will they cut our staff?” Pope asked.
Brad Heide followed with, “Or do we pay the money and they cut staff because we have nothing in writing?”
Board members agreed they would like to see a proposed contract from the county that could be screened by the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB).