Three Callaway County school districts and county officials have opted to continue school resource officer contracts.

New Bloomfield R-3, North Callaway R-1 and South Callaway R-2 each contracted with the county for the first time during the 2018-19 school year. The Callaway County Sheriff’s Office provided a deputy to each school.

​​District, county and sheriff’s office officials agree the experiment has been a success.

“We are very happy with the implementation of our SRO,” New Bloomfield Superintendent Sarah Wisdom said. “He has brought some programs and knowledge to our district that we have not had before.”

Sheriff Clay Chism noted the SROs aren’t in districts just to enforce the law or look intimidating. Rather, they’re meant to build relationships with students and faculty.

“All three SROs are now routinely being contacted by students and parents about matters that don’t even necessarily relate to school because they’ve built that trust and rapport,” Chism said.

To date, he said, the three SROs have conducted 471 special interventions, presentations and school activities.

“Their function is not to get kids in trouble but to prevent trouble from the onset,” he said. “I feel confident in saying they’ve stopped a lot of bad incidents, but that’s harder to put a number on.”

Back in December, for example, New Bloomfield SRO Nick Jensen was able to intervene quickly when a high school student made a threat of violence. The student was taken into custody without incident.

Terms of the agreement remain unchanged for the 2019-20 school year.

Under the contract’s terms, the district will cover 65 percent of the deputy’s salary and benefits, with the county paying for the remainder. Chism said the salary and benefits could total up to $51,435.13, but likely will cost less: that figure is based on the maximum salary for a Callaway County deputy, $38,000.

The county also pays for training and equipment.

“I want to say how proud I am that the county’s able to take part in this,” County Commissioner Randy Kleindienst said.

​Story by Helen Wilbers | Fulton Sun​