Fewer police officers will work in St. Charles schools

The number of police officers working in the St. Charles School District likely will drop by one-third next school year.

For at least the past three years, the city has provided two school resource officers and two Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) officers to the district free of charge; the school district paid two additional resource officers.

Starting in the fall, the city likely won’t provide the D.A.R.E. officers. Those duties would be picked up by two of the school resource officers, said Superintendent Randy Charles. He announced the change during the Board of Education meeting March 12.

Charles said he met with St. Charles Police Chief Dennis Corley and Mayor Patti York in February and was told the D.A.R.E. officers were needed as regular police officers.

Corley refused to comment on the issue, saying the City Council would discuss it during its April 21 meeting. York was unavailable for comment.

Council member Jerry Reese, Ward 6, said he was not happy the change was made before the council could discuss it. He said the council was informed about the change through a memo from Corley. A copy of the memo was unavailable by press time.

“The foremost concern that I have is the safety of these students in these buildings,” Reese said. “We should have had as a council some discussion on this before it was given to the school district.”

Charles said he’s not concerned about the change.

“There are always times when a school resource officer or a D.A.R.E. officer may have something scheduled or planned and something unexpected comes up,” he said. “Will we see a little more of that? That’s always possible when we have four bodies instead of six.”

This school year the district had one resource officer at each high school, one at Hardin Middle and a fourth who split time between Jefferson Middle and Lewis and Clark Career Center. The district’s two D.A.R.E. officers travel between schools but mostly work with fifth-grade students, Charles said.

It’s still unclear where the four school resource officers would be stationed next year.

“I hope the D.A.R.E. program may continue to be viable,” he said. “I think it would be shortsighted to think it won’t see any effect.”

With the closure of two district elementary schools and reorganization, all fifth-graders now attend Jefferson Middle, which means the D.A.R.E. officers don’t have to travel as far.

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