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Knox Community Schools working to hire school resource officer

KNOX, Ind. -- The Knox Community School Corporation is working to hire its very first school resource officer, but the district is running into funding problems.

“We’re trying to be proactive, and we’re trying to keep our kids safe," said Dr. Bill Reichhart, superintendent for the Knox Community School Corporation.

The superintendent's game plan to keep kids safe has expanded to include the district's first-ever school resource officer.

The way Dr. Reichhart envisions it, the school would pay for about two-thirds of the officer's salary when he or she works the 180 days school is in session, and Starke County or the city of Knox would pay for the other third or less of the remaining 60 work days the officer could patrol.

He's basing that on a $75,000 city police officer salary with benefits.

“I think that because they’re employed by the sheriff’s department or by the city of Knox, that because they’re on that force they would have immediate access to the legalities of being a police officer," said Dr. Reichhart.

He says police were called to the district about 250 times in the 2017-18 school year. 

The thought with the new position is that having an active duty police officer on campus would greatly reduce the number of times they'd have to call the already short-staffed city police department.

The problem with the superintendent's plan is that many on the County Council and Commissioners believe the school should pay 100% of the salary, just like Oregon-Davis does.

Plus, two out of the three county commissioners said if they helped fund one at Knox Schools, they feel they would then have to set aside money to support a school resource officer in the three neighboring districts.

“Everybody has worked well together. It always boils down to how much money do you have," said Dr. Reichhart.

He met with Knox Mayor Dennis Estok a couple weeks ago to see if the city could find the approximately $19,000 the corporation wouldn't be able to cover.

Mayor Estok said over the phone that he's not optimistic the city can afford it, but he's still looking into it.

“It depends on the priority of the community and where they want to put their dollars in terms of what they feel is the most important resources of the community," said Dr. Reichhart.

The Starke County Sheriff said that he never officially presented the position for a vote to the council or commissioners, because he messaged a couple of them privately and couldn't find the support.

The superintendent says they would use money from a school safety grant to help fund the position, but he doesn't think they can afford it without help from the county or city.


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