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Editorials

Our View: Thumbs down to the high school resource officer dispute

The Kane County Sheriff’s Office is up against 17 personnel vacancies, due to issues such as workers’ compensation, military leave, retirements and resignations.

With these vacancies comes the need to make staffing decisions based on the number of available officers, Lt. Patrick Gengler explained in an email after the sheriff’s office announced it would be pulling its two full-time school resource officers – or SROs – out of Kaneland and Central high schools for the 2016-17 school year.

Sheriff Don Kramer said in July that one full-time SRO would be split between both schools. School officials said this solution was inadequate, as it would take 15 to 20 minutes for the sheriff’s office to respond to an emergency, assuming the SRO was not placed at that specific school that day.

“The sheriff did discuss a part-time position, but that’s not a satisfactory ... ,” Burlington Superintendent Todd Stirn said. “Now is not the time to tell our [patrons] that they’re ‘safe enough’ and don’t deserve the same level of safety as other schools.”

Other local high schools lie within village or city limits and are therefore not staffed with SROs from the sheriff’s office. Their SROs are provided by municipal police departments.

“There’s nobody who cares more about the kids than I do,” Kramer said Aug. 9.

At the Kaneland Board of Education meeting Aug. 8, board members authorized hiring additional security services for days that a SRO is not present – not to exceed $12,000.

During the 2013-14 school year, 65 percent of public schools reported one or more violent incidents, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

We think it’s time the sheriff communicate again with school officials to set a timeline for reinstalling full-time SROs at both high schools. Safety is the last thing we want to gamble with.

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