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District U-46 approves final SRO police contract

By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 voted 6-1, Veronica Noland voting no, to approve the School Resource Officer (SRO) contract with the City of Elgin at its meeting on Monday, Nov. 16 which was held virtually due to COVID-19 regulations.
  The cost for salaries and overtime/event security remained the same as last year, $505,242. On Nov. 2, the board cast the same 6-1 vote approving of SRO contracts from Bartlett, South Elgin and Streamwood at a cost of $581,543, a 3.1 percent increase from $563,961.
  All four contracts are generally approved at the same time each year, but Elgin’s City Council had not approved its contract when the other three came to the U-46 board.
  “Contract language changes were the same as considered by the Board of Education for the three previous SRO contracts,” John Heiderscheidt, director of school safety and culture, wrote in a memo regarding the Elgin contract.
  The four police departments provide an SRO for U-46’s secondary schools, middle and high schools. Those schools have remained shutdown due to the district’s decision to remain in distanced learning.
  Prior to the Nov. 2 vote, Noland said “we have wonderful SROs,” but “I can’t have my vote be part of that systemic racism.” She added: “We need to remove the threat (of police) from our lives.”
  The board generally agreed it wanted to seek different security options in the future but wanted to approve this year’s contracts. The board explicitly stated its reasons were because of partisan political organizations guiding them, not citing a single complaint or allegation of wrongdoing by U-46 SROs, as some claimed the mere existence of police is racism.
  “The power and the versatility of the Black Lives Matter movement is telling us what our black and brown communities feel about the police,” said board member Kate Thommes.

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