La Crosse school board endorses cuts in SRO, while new date for return to schools is announced
The La Crosse school board got behind a move to downsize a school policing program, which has been called detrimental to many local students.
Six of the nine board members voted Monday night in favor of La Crosse Schools Superintendent Dr. Aaron Engel’s plan to reduce the number of school resource officers, and remove them from school buildings.
Board member Pelli Lee voted against the Engel report, while Keonte Turner and Jeff Meyer abstained, in part because the plan does not completely eliminate the SRO system.
Turner said the program has “failed so many kids,” and is going to harm others who are intimidated by police being in schools.
Board president Laurie Cooper Stoll says the elected board does not have the power to decide whether the contract with city police continues, noting that the superintendent has the authority to negotiate the SRO contract with city police.
Budget cutting was another factor in the board vote. The superintendent’s plan to cut back on SRO officers would save more than $140,000. The contract for $244,000 ends in June.
Meanwhile, the La Crosse school district is setting Jan. 20 as the target date for bringing back students to school buildings.
Engel told the board that students in the lower grades would be brought back first, with the upper grades set to return later.
Engel said the date, which was initially set for Jan. 18, is designed to give students and staff more time to isolate from possible COVID exposure over the holiday break before in-person activities resume.
School sports and other student activities could resume sometime in January.