FDCSD approves funding second school resource officer

The Fort Dodge Community School District board approved a 28E agreement Monday with the city of Fort Dodge to fund its school resource officers.

Before this year, the district had one SRO. Now the district has two.

“Those have been basically at the city’s expense,” Doug Van Zyl, FDCSD superintendent, said. “We’ve done some research and … looked at other districts that have SROs. Normally those school districts are paying for some of those services.”

With the 28E agreement, the district will pay overtime for both officers, Van Zyl said.

“We’ll pay for a portion of one (SRO) this year and then we’ll start adding $7,000 to the amount per year, if we’re able to through our at-risk funds,” he said. “It’s not a general fund expenditure, it’s through at-risk funds.”

The district, in effect, would be subsidizing the SRO, Van Zyl said.

“We’re helping to compensate for the time they’re with us,” he said. “We took a look at their salaries and looked at how many months of the year they’re with us. That’s what we’re helping to subsidize, that time they’re with us.”

The expense is based on the amount of time the officer spends with the school district.

“We took a look at their total cost and we have that officer about 75 percent of the year,” Van Zyl said. “So, about 75 percent of that officer’s expense. But then we’re going to phase in and help pay for part of the second officer.”

According to Van Zyl, having school resource officers is beneficial to the district and its students.

“No. 1, it’s proactive,” he said. “No. 2, we now have officers who are in our buildings, our elementaries and middle school and high school, walking around and talking with kids and sitting down and having lunch. If there are issues it’s pretty easy for us to be able to get a hold of our two officers and have them respond.”

Board member Bill Kent asked if the officers were specific to any one school building.

“Right now, for the most part, they float back and forth between the high school and middle school,” Van Zyl explained. “They’re on-call for the elementaries, but the majority of their time is spent between high school and the middle school.”

The board approved the 28E agreement unanimously. It next has to be approved by the city and the state.