September 14: School Resource Officer

Hello, Black River Falls community! This is Dr. Shelly Severson, Superintendent of the School District of Black River Falls, here to share with you this week's Spotlight on Schools!  This week I’m going to talk a little bit about an ongoing discussion that the District is involved in with several other agencies within our community. Sadly, school safety is in the national spotlight and becomes a volleying point whenever election season is upon us. The School District of Black River Falls is lucky to have two high-quality agencies that are both continuously looking out for the best interests of our students, staff, and the community.  Both the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department and the Black River Falls City Police Department have approached the District with an interest in partnering with us to provide School Resource Officer services.

The idea of a School Resource Officer is not new to Black River Falls. Eighteen years ago, the District had a Police Liaison Officer that was funded through a COPS grant, and as the grant went away, so did the position.  As I mentioned before, school safety remains in the headlines and the topic is being resurrected in districts across the country.

Currently, when an incident happens at the schools where we are in need of police assistance, we will either call the City Police, if the problem is with one of our schools within the city limits, or we call Jackson County if it is outside the city limits. Of course, should a true emergency happen we would dial 911. We continue to be incredibly pleased with the on-call services that we are provided by both of these agencies.  The difference between these on-call services and the pro-active services that a School Resource Officer provides is quite significant. A SRO spends their days in the schools building relationships with students, being present during lunch hours and on the playground, in the hallways between classes, and as guest speakers in classes where appropriate.  They work to become another caring and trusted adult that students can go to when they have something troubling that they want to share. The national research points to a safer school environment when law enforcement isn’t looked at as the “bad guys” in the community, but the resources necessary to maintain a safe learning environment for all.

On Monday evening, the school board members will be having additional debate and discussion as to whether or not the District should financially support a portion of the cost of a School Resource Officer, and if so, should they partner with the county or the city.  There are a great many more details involved in the debate than I can’t go into in this announcement, but please feel free to reach out to myself or any of your elected school board members to share your views on this topic. Better yet, please feel welcome to come and join us on Monday evening at the District Office for our Board of Education meeting that begins at 6:00 pm.  This is most definitely a community topic, and we welcome your input!

Today’s parent feedback I’m going to share comes from a MS parent; “I feel Theresa Skogstad has done a really nice job meeting the needs of our daughter; it was difficult for her to transition into the Middle School but I feel this has been a very positive experience.  Thank you Mrs. Skogstad for your time and patience, we are very appreciative!”

As always, if you have any questions about this, or anything else, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  Enjoy the remaining days of summer and don’t forget to show your Tiger Pride in all that you do!

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