There will be school resource officers present every day at four Clark County districts beginning on the first day of classes as part of a pilot program with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.
Tecumseh Local was one of the first districts to take part in a tentative agreement with the sheriff’s office back in May.
“It’s important that we show as a county that we feel safety is important for our students,” said Tecumseh Superintendent Paula Crew.
Most recently, Clark County commissioners approved a deputy in July for the Clark-Shawnee Local School District. The commission previously approved deputies for Tecumseh Local, Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center and Northwestern Local.
Clark County Sheriff’s Deputy Joshua Pacine, assigned to Clark-Shawnee, has been with the sheriff’s office since 2006 and is a graduate of Shawnee, according to a biography on the sheriff’s website.
“It’s great to have someone who knows about our community and our culture and that allows him to jump right in,” said Clark-Shawnee Superintendent Brian Kuhn.
He said the district serves around 2,000 kids, and the administration will work together to develop anchor points where the deputy will be located throughout the day and at after-school events.
“If we’re in a position where there’s ‘See something, say something,’ kids know who they can go say something to,” Kuhn said.
There was previously a program in the county where two deputies would float between all Clark County schools, but this program is school-specific.
Chief Deputy Jeff Meyer said the pilot program will be a learning process, and deputies will handle whatever may come up within the district.
“I hope it will make everybody feel safer, more secure,” he said. “If you come in intending to do harm, our officers are there to protect the kids.”
The program will operate for one year, with an option to reevaluate at is completion. Cost is split between Clark County and individual districts.
In Champaign County, Urbana City Schools also will have a new resource officer present, in an agreement with the Urbana Police Division, when students start school just after Labor Day.
Urbana City Schools Superintendent Charles Thiel said the school board is concerned any time an incident happens on the national scale — or locally.
Less than 10 miles down the road, West-Liberty Salem Jr./Sr. High School was the scene of a school shooting that left one person injured in 2017.
“The situation with West Liberty was a huge driver for our board. Before that, they had asked about a resource officer but they really communicated with me and got after me (after that incident),” Thiel said.
The Urbana school board approved an agreement in late July for a 175-day contract with the Urbana Police Division, in which the district will fund two-thirds of the cost for the officer.
Thiel said as part of Urbana’s new elementary/junior high building set to open this year, there are security features that were suggested from a security team at West Liberty.