COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Columbia Public Schools sent out a survey to district parents this week seeking input on school safety after the City of Columbia decided to end contracts that put police in schools.
The email sent to parents said the district needs to have a handle on school safety when middle and high school students return for the fall semester.
The survey gave several options on how the district could pay for similar services:
- School counselors - $5 million
- Outreach/crisis counselors - $780,000
- Home school communicators - $1.75 million
- School resource officers - $200,000
According to the district's email, CPS previously paid $200,000 for SRO contracts. District officials had already allocated the money before the resource officer positions were eliminated.
Michelle Baumstark, CPS Spokeswoman said all ideas are welcome as they end of the contract was a surprise.
“It's left us in a position where we need the input of our school community, in order to be able to determine what those next steps are,” Baumstark said.
On Friday some of the most common thoughts from the community on the district's survey include trying to bring back the SRO's, hire security or safety officers or re-evaluate staffing in cps's counseling, outreach and social work positions.
Kathy Steinhoff, President of the Columbia Missouri National Education Association said every role in schools is critical to helping students.
She said that it feels like CPS needs more of all resources and that the district could look at improving the already existing safety and security services to ensure the needs of CPS students.
"When we look at the current resources we have in place,” Steinhoff said. “And how we could kind of beef up, like how we could have more outreach counselors or we could have more social workers are more counselors, or more people that are servicing our students even in a disciplinary avenue if that's necessary."
Steinhoff believes the needs of each school are so different, which is why she expects many different opinions on where that money should be spent.
The CPS budget year begins July 1 while the city's budget year begins Oct. 1.
City officials cut the SRO contracts calling it a cost-saving measure brought on by COVID-19. Previously, CPS paid 55 percent of the resource officers' contracts.
Under the contract an officer was assigned to each of the district's three high schools and another rotated between middle schools.
The officers will have the availability to move to the police department's Community Outreach Unit. The city said it is adding at least three positions to the outreach unit.
Columbia's police union said it didn't approve of the city's decision. The Columbia Police Officer's Association said removing the positions "unecessarily decreases safety" inside schools.
Check back or watch ABC 17 News at 10 for more on this developing story.