Our View: Everyone agrees - School should have liaison officerThey both agree that a liaison officer at Hudson High School is a good thing, but a stalemate has developed regarding the share of cost between the city of Hudson and the School District of Hudson.
They both agree that a liaison officer at Hudson High School is a good thing, but a stalemate has developed regarding the share of cost between the city of Hudson and the School District of Hudson.
As a result, the future of the school liaison officer is in jeopardy. This is one of those rare disputes where there is no clear-cut solution – both sides make some good points. But, we think a compromise could work.
The Hudson Board of Education voted 4-1 last week to reject the city of Hudson’s contract offer. The city had presented the district with a two-year contract calling for the district to pay 60 percent of the officer’s annual salary, benefits and equipment the first year and 75 percent the second year. Under the previous contract, which expired in December, the district paid 50 percent of the officer’s cost for 10 months.
The city’s new contract proposal would represent a school cost increase of $18,000 the first year and $34,000 the second.
The city argues that the school should pay a larger share of the cost. Much of the logic centers on the fact that about 41 percent of the students actually reside in the city of Hudson. The city, no doubt, feels that they should not have to pay the full cost for students who come to school from the towns of Hudson, St. Joseph, Troy and the village of North Hudson.
In some ways, the city may sometimes feel that they are taken advantage of in financial arrangements for items such as library, fire protection, etc. – it seems the city always gets nicked for a larger share of the expenses on items where much of the usage comes from residents outside of the city. The city can also show examples of districts where the school pays a much higher share than 50 percent for a liaison officer.
On the other side of the coin, the district can show that there is only one school in the Big Rivers Conference that pays more than 50 percent for a school liaison officer — most all schools in the area now have a liaison position. And, there is always the argument that much of the police protection in the city involves people from outside the borders. When the police roam the downtown streets on a Saturday night, a small percentage of incidents and arrests probably involve a resident of the city.
There is no doubt that the position generates plenty of activity for Hudson officer Mark Crimmins. The units of activity for 2007 totaled 8,877 (includes all contact with students, parents, classes, etc.), 674 investigations, interviews and follow-ups and 192 arrests – a number that has gone down since the peak of 263 arrests in 2006.
Then there is the argument that whoever pays what percentage is not all that important, since property tax dollars are pretty much paying the tab regardless of where it comes from — the school ledger or city ledger.
Like most others, we believe the position is valuable – in some ways it is sad that there is a police officer in the school, but it’s the reality of the day. One simple solution would be the use of city student numbers (41 percent). That would leave the split at about 60 percent school, 40 percent city. The city would get a larger financial commitment from the school than the current 50-50 split. The school would get a better cut in the second year than the proposed 75-25 split. Maybe both sides should consider this compromise for a couple of years and then the issue can be examined again when the next contract comes due.