For the first time in about six years, there will be a police officer assigned to George Washington Middle School in Lyons-Brookfield School District 103.
The school board voted 4 to 3 to last week to create a new position of school resource officer at GWMS, which serves the southeast section of Brookfield, at a cost not to exceed $65,000 a year.
The school resource officer is likely to be a Lyons police officer, and the school board will likely work out an intergovernmental agreement with the village of Lyons to pay for the position.
“They have a vested interest in being community partners,” District 103 Superintendent Kristopher Rivera told school board members at their Dec. 15 meeting.
But the village of Lyons was not always so interested in being a partner with the school district. In 2018, when the board majority was controlled by board members not elected with the help of Lyons Village President Christopher Getty, the Lyons Police Department refused to sign a routine information sharing agreement with the school district.
The vote to approve the school resource officer position followed the now familiar split with the usual board majority of Vito Campanile, Oliva Quintero, Winfred Rodriguez and school President Jorge Torres voting in favor of creating the position, while the board minority bloc of Sharon Anderson, Marge Hubacek and Shannon Johnson voted against creating the position.
“We shouldn’t be paying the village of Lyons $65,000 for this,” Johnson said. “They should be sharing the cost as they’ve done in the past.”
But Campanile disagreed.
“If we hired direct it could cost a lot more,” Campanile said.
Hubacek wanted more information about the responsibilities of the officer and wondered if the officer would serve district schools that are not located in Lyons.
“I’m not against an SRO, but I have questions that I’m not getting answers to,” Hubacek said. “I can’t support this as it is now, because we don’t have enough information and every student in our district should be protected.”
Rivera said that the Lyons Police Department has an officer in mind for the position who has already gone through the required training.
The new school resource officer will probably start working in early 2021, even though students in District 103 are still attending school remotely.
“It will give us a little jump start,” Rivera said, adding that that the new school resource officer could do a safety audit even without students in the building.
Rivera also said that small groups of special educations students are likely to be attending school in person soon.