School Resource Officers

The future of the Madison Metropolitan School District’s school resource officer (SRO) program is expected to come to an end Monday when its school board will to decide whether to maintain the district’s contract with the city’s police department.

Board President Gloria Reyes signaled Wednesday, June 24, the relationship will end.

“As leaders in education, we recognize that now is the time to intensify our commitment to dismantling systemic racism by addressing inequities that only serve as mechanisms of division, and this decision is a significant step.” Reyes said, according to a report from NBC15.

The Monona Grove School Board will also discuss its relationship with the Monona and Cottage Grove Police departments when it meets July 8, Superintendent Dan Olson said.

“We happen to be nearing the end of our current SRO contract with the city of Monona and the village of Cottage Grove,” Olson said. “We anticipate discussion during the review of that contract.”

The contract would be for two school years, 2020-21 and 2021-22. Because the police officer works in the schools about nine months out of the year, the districts pays about 75 percent of the officers’ salary and benefits, with the municipality paying the rest.

Monona Grove schools have had an SRO program since 2012.

Monona and Cottage Grove each assign one officer to the schools. While technically both officers serve districtwide, the Monona officer (currently Luke Wunsch) traditionally serves Winnequah School, Monona Grove High School and MG21, and the Cottage Grove officer (Jessica Helgeland) serves Glacial Drumlin, Cottage Grove and Taylor Prairie schools.

“Both officers spend about 40 hours per week in our schools, a considerable amount of that time they are building relationships with students, and work closely with building administration and our student services team,” Olson said.

They host “lunch bunches,” attend student activities and sporting events and more.

“SROs also work with building administration on school safety, including our twice per year safety drills and our ALICE protocol (Alert, Lockdown and Barricade, Inform, Counter, Evacuate and Escape).”

McFarland School District Superintendent Andrew Briddell said the district is very happy with its program and relationship with the McFarland Police Department.

“McFarland has an outstanding SRO program, and there are no discussions in our district about changing it,” he said.

Officer John Miller is based at McFarland High School and visits all district buildings.

“John has excellent relationships with students, families and educators alike, and is an invaluable resource for our school community,” Briddell said. “His work includes advising the district on school safety protocols, helping to provide training for our staff and also serving as a liaison for families who may need to connect with other services beyond the school system.”

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