ST. PARIS – Graham Local Schools is in the process of getting a Champaign County Sheriff’s Office deputy in its schools.
The school board approved entering into an agreement with the sheriff’s office to provide a school resource officer at a $30,000 cost to the district at its Thursday meeting. The officer would be in place for the upcoming school year.
The officer would be based in the high school but visit all schools in the district, board President Steve Setty said. And the officer would do more than police the halls.
“The expectation is the school resource officer will be in the building, not just as a sheriff, but to build relationships with the kids,” he said. “He will be more than just a security presence in the building.”
The idea of bringing in an officer was not due to increased violence at the schools, Setty said.
Setty said the goal is to have the resource officer visit all the schools, perhaps give seminars with students on online and social media safety, among other things. The board wants the officer to connect with students so they feel comfortable approaching that person with any questions or concerns.
The idea of having a school resource officer came up during the district’s strategic planning process, Setty said.
“I think we are very fortunate the county sheriff wants to work with us,” said incoming Superintendent Kirk Koennecke. “There were so many issues we heard with the strategic planning process in the community. They wanted us to show some support for engaging students in different ways. A school resource officer is a great way to do that, to help with the social and emotional relationships with young children.”
Koennecke said he worked in other districts with school resource officers. Graham would be the only district in Champaign County with one.
The district will work with the sheriff’s office to select the officer, Setty said. The officer would be shared, meaning the officer would respond to calls off school property as needed. There would be set hours the deputy would be in the schools, though the details have not been worked out.
The funds to pay for the officer will come from the district’s cash balance, which the board decided to begin dipping into to bring back staff and programs cut in past years. Setty said the district was sitting on more than 90 days of cash to keep the district running – a point that is recommended to keep a district financially stable.
The school board approved the resignation of Assistant High School Principal Chris Barr, who resigned to take a job in another district. Barr’s salary was $77,185, Treasurer Judy Geers said. Barr’s resignation letter does not state where he is going, but thanks the school district for its employment of him.
“It has been an honor and privilege to serve the Graham Local School District during four of the last five years,” he wrote. “I have a great amount of respect for not only you two (High School Principal Joe Hurst and Interim Superintendent Matt Curtis), but all the employees of the district. This is definitely a bittersweet decision.”
He is being replaced by Matthew Triplett, currently the Urbana High School assistant principal. The board approved Triplett’s new two-year contract for the 2016-17 school year, effective Aug. 1, 2016, at a salary of $76,325, Geers said.
The school board also approved hiring Andrew Woods as head varsity football coach for the 2016-17 school year. Woods was hired as a science teacher in the district in 2013. He will be paid $4,774 for the coaching position, Geers said.
Transportation office and auction
The district received its occupancy permit for the new transportation building across from the middle school in the former Faulkner Lumberyard, District Operations and Services Supervisor Don Burley said. Staff will move into that office soon, and an open house is being discussed for September.
Burley said the district will hold an auction of unnecessary district items Saturday at 10 a.m. at the former Small Town Sales and Service building.
In other action, the board:
•Approved an agreement with Cotterman Roofing Company, using the TIPS cooperative purchasing program, to replace the flat roof on the middle school for $161,000.
•Accepted resignations of aide Melissa Charles, effective July 31, 2016; teacher Melodie Myers, effective Julie 31, 2016; teacher Amanda Nothstine, effective Aug. 1, 2016; and Administrative Assistant Jennifer Wilcoxon, effective Aug. 12, 2016.
•Approved hiring Boys and Girls Varsity Cross Country Head Coach Sheila Prill and Boys Varsity Track Head Coach Megan Kelly, for the 2016-17 school year.
•Approved the unpaid medical leave of absence for Jesse Williams through Aug. 1, 2017.
•Approved hiring Varsity Volleyball Head Coach Gaye Carafa and MS Football (8th) Head Coach James Pence, for the 2016-17 school year.
•Approved the FCCLA National Leadership Conference trip to San Diego, Calif., from July 2-8, 2016.
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.