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Waterford High School pushing for referendum to fund resource officer
Waterford High School

Waterford High School pushing for referendum to fund resource officer

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WATERFORD — Funding for a Waterford High School resource officer could be on district residents’ ballots in the spring.

The proposed referendum would authorize about $100,000 to put a school resource officer in WHS. Both the Town and Village Board on Monday unanimously passed a resolution in support of the referendum. The School Board will have the final say of whether to put the question on ballots for next April’s election.

The village and town boards’ resolutions come after the two municipalities and district could not agree upon who should pay for the resource officer, or how much they should pay; the district had previously proposed paying half of the associated costs, leaving the rest to the town and village. While the entire Town and Village of Waterford are part of the district, so are parts of Dover, Rochester, Raymond and Norway.

“There’s a perception of a more safe environment that can be articulated for students and staff that is more subjective in nature, but there is a sense of comfort and calming when you have a resource officer that is on-staff,” Superintendent Luke Francois said.

All property owners in the district would contribute to the officer’s pay under the proposed referendum, Francois said. The district would pay 73% of the cost, with the remainder to be paid by the village and town.

Under the proposal, the officer would operate under a 260-day contract, with 190 of those spent at the school during the school year and the other 70 spent in the communities that contribute to the rest of his or her pay.

Police contract concerns

Because the resource officer would likely be a Waterford Police Department employee, Francois has concerns surrounding the potential for the village to cancel its police protection contract with the town.

The Waterford Town Board in August canceled its fire protection contract with the village, casting a cloud of uncertainty over the village’s police protection. The village currently contracts with the town’s Police Department, but is weighing a contract with the Racine County Sheriff’s Office, which previously covered the village.

If the contract is canceled, village and town officials have said there would almost certainly be staffing cuts to the Police Department.

“We want to attract the best candidate, and that’s somebody who’s looking for full-time opportunity year-round,” Francois said. “And if the town and village do not have a need for 3½ months of additional coverage (when school isn’t in session) to support their department, we may not get as attractive a candidate.”

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