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Union

SRO Agreement Being ‘Finalized’

By Joe Barker, Union Missourian Editor​ ​ ​

The city of Union and the Union School District are “finalizing” a deal to rework how school resource officers (SRO) are paid.

Union Police Chief Norm Brune said progress is being made on the effort to renegotiate the agreement between the two groups. The Union R-XI School Board is scheduled to vote on approving the new agreement at its meeting Monday, June 25.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m.

The city and school district have been discussing the joint SRO agreement for several months now.

The proposed new deal would increase the school district’s financial obligation for SROs.

The conversation about revising the agreement began after Union school district officials requested an additional SRO.

Currently Union police allocate three SROs to the school district. The officers are assigned to Central Elementary, Union Middle School and Union High School.

The school board talked in April about adding an SRO for Clark-Vitt Elementary by the start of the 2018-19 school year.

Union Superintendent Dr. Steve Weinhold told The Missourian in May the district considers having an SRO at each building good for the safety of students and staffers.

City of Union officials were open to the plan, but were trying to make the agreement work financially.

The current agreement between the city and school district splits the cost of an SRO 50/50 when an officer is doing school-related activities. If an officer is working for the city, the city pays 100 percent.

In May the city proposed changing the agreement and modeling it after other districts, like Washington.

Under the new proposal, SROs would be paid 100 percent by the school when working for the district and 100 percent by the city when working for Union.

Brune said that proposal is being reviewed by the school district and both groups are working toward finalizing that agreement.

Brune said if the deal is approved, the city would move quickly to hire a new patrol officer. Once that officer is hired and trained, Brune said another officer could be assigned as an SRO for Clark-Vitt.

When the idea was proposed, City Administrator Russell Rost said it would simplify the agreement because it clearly spells out which group has to pay for the SRO based on what the officer is doing.

For example, if the officer is working in a school, the district would be billed for 100 percent of those hours. If the officer was working traffic duty on a weekend, the city would foot 100 percent of the bill.

Rost said this formula also would extend to things like training. If the officer was undergoing mandatory firearms training, Union would pay 100 percent of the salary. If the officer was doing SRO training, the school district would be billed.

Rost said after checking in with comparable police departments, he said he found out most utilize this pay structure.

According to data provided to Rost by the Washington Police Department, under its agreement with its school district, SRO pay is mostly handled by the school district. Rost said it was almost at a 75-25 ratio of district work to city work.

Rost said he calculated Union SROs spend about 72 percent of their time working at schools.

Both Rost and Brune said the new formula would be much simpler to figure out as far as billing is concerned.