School Resource Officer talks Wa-Nee School Safety Referedum

NOW: School Resource Officer talks Wa-Nee School Safety Referedum



Wa-Nee Community Schools is hoping voters pass a school safety referendum in Tuesday’s elections. The proposal would help to fund multiple school safety upgrades within the district. 

Right now the district does not have school safety built into its yearly budget. Instead, it applies for a $50,000 grant every year to fund the school resource officer and other safety upgrades. 

Kris Hershberger is the only school resource officer in the district. The referendum would add a second officer to help watch over the five schools. 

“One officer for five schools is just not enough,” he said. “While I’m doing something here at the high school we could have another school resource officer at Wakarusa that would cover the middle school and Wakarusa Elementary.”

The school has proposed an estimated budget of $1 million annually. The maximum amount to be collected over the eight year period would be $0.0959 a month. That would mean a few dollars monthly for property owners within the district. 

The money would go towards another school resource officer, an extension of the school’s alternative education program and more safety features like security. Plus it would add mental health counselors to the school, which Hershberger says is needed. 

“I’ve had students tell me in my office here that they’ve been abused, they’ve been beaten, raped, molested,” he said. 

And as Hoosiers head to the polls, Hershberger is hoping they understand what this referendum would mean for the students. 

"Students will tell me that they need mental help, they're struggling, they have anxiety, they have depression, they're suicidal, but they won't tell their parent that,” said Hershberger. “So I think my biggest fear with the mental health side is when people sit down to vote they'll say 'well my student never says anything about this so I'm going to vote no.' I think it's very important for parents to understand that this is a different day and age. Students are exposed to so many different things."

If the referendum is passed in Tuesday’s election, the district plans to begin implementing changes this school year.

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