School resource officers

Madison School Resource Officer Justin Creech speaks during an interview at Madison West High School in April.

With a nod from Madison’s Finance Committee, a contract with the Madison Metropolitan School District that would keep police officers in schools is heading to the City Council for final approval.  

The Madison School Board approved a contract June 10 that keeps school resource officers in the city’s four high schools. Under the contract, MMSD would have the ability to remove an officer from one of the high schools. 

Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway sponsored the resolution approving the contract and said it is more responsive to the district’s needs, though the mayor said she might have a different view if she were on the school board. 

“They are requesting a service, which we can provide. I think this contract gives them the flexibility that they need,” Rhodes-Conway said. “I’m hopeful that they will explore other ways to keep our schools safe, and I’d be willing to work with them on that.” 

The Finance Committee took a voice vote to approve the contract, with Ald. Rebecca Kemble, District 18, voting against. 

Kemble reminded committee members that the City Council voted against accepting funds in the 2019 budget from American Family Insurance for a police officer position in the area and a squad car. She said the city should not be contracting out officers to any entity, especially given concerns from the Madison Police Department on staffing levels and the amount of overtime officers work. 

“It makes zero sense to me to let four of our officers go to an outside entity, be it private or public,” Kemble said. “I think it’s an irresponsible decision.”

The three-year contract would run from Aug. 1 through June 15, 2022. Under the contract, MMSD would reimburse the city for salary and benefit costs of the school resource officers. The city is not subsidizing the cost of the officers. 

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In 2019, to date, MMSD has been invoiced $152,900 for the 2018-2019 school year, which fell under the previous contract. The city estimates that $213,700 will be invoiced for the remainder of 2019 under the new contract.  

MMSD would also pay the city $110 for the use of four vehicles — $27.50 per vehicle — each week for each school year during the hours that the officers are on duty. 

Council President Shiva Bidar, who represents District 5, supported the contract and emphasized that the school board requested a service from the city. The decision to have officers in schools is a “school board decision, not a City Council decision.” 

“We want to continue in good partnership with MMSD,” Bidar said. “We have a lot of other work we want to do with them, some work I hope we can do collaboratively.” 

The City Council will take up the contract at its meeting July 2 at 6:30 p.m. in Room 201 of the City-County Building, 210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.  

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