2nd liaison officer for RMS is on agenda

May 19, 2018 GMT

The board of education of the Watertown Unified School District will meet Monday at 6:30 p.m. to consider approving a second school police resource officer at Riverside Middle School. Currently Jeff Meloy serves as the school liaison officer for all the schools in the district, but Watertown Police Chief Tim Roets says more support is needed at the middle school than what one officer can give.

“Officer Meloy is unable to take any proactive measures and is simply in a reactive posture investigating complaints being brought to his attention,” Roets said in a memo. “His ability to serve as a counselor to students, develop relationships with them and be present in classrooms is limited by this heightened case load.”

Meloy told members of the fiscal management committee recently that even though he loves his job he is being stretched to his breaking point professionally with the heavy caseload.

He also said mental health problems are plaguing students even at the elementary level. Meloy said broken homes, along with drug and alcohol addictions on the parts of parents and sometimes students, are having a devastating effect on children and teens.

The role of the school resource officer is vital as it helps to dispel preconceived notions students may have about police officers Meloy said.

Having an officer in the schools also makes students feel secure, especially with more active shooter situations happening in the country.

The cost of this position is likely to be split between the school district and city, depending on the officer hired for the position. When the matter was first brought up in 2015, the proposed cost for a resource officer in the schools was approximately $70,000 for wages and benefits. Roets said those costs may have increased since then.

If approved it is likely the position would start Jan. 1 to coincide with the city’s budget year.

On another topic the board will discuss partially funding a school crossing warning signal to be placed at the Main and Montgomery streets intersection.

According to Roets, the Montgomery and West Main streets project would be funded in a three-way split among the city, St. Bernard’s and the Watertown school district. The Montgomery and Emmet streets project would be split between St. Bernard’s and the city.

In a letter to the school district’s fiscal management committee Roets stated, “This request is the culmination of a progression of strategies at this location (West Main and Montgomery) to improve the safety of pedestrians crossing in the crosswalks -- particularly young children. This pedestrian crossing is one of nine crossings in which an adult crossing guard is assigned to cross children before and after school.”

Roets said a high-visibility solar pedestrian crossing light system was selected to effectively warn traffic.

“This method was selected because despite the use of traffic cones, roadway pedestrian signs, and an adult crossing guard with a reflective vest and stop sign, this intersection remains the most dangerous to cross children,” he said. “The intersection becomes highly congested with traffic before and after school at the same time the adult crossing guard is tasked with crossing children.”

Roets said it is unquestionably the most dangerous crossing of the nine based on the observations of the police officers who patrol school crossings daily.

The crossing light system will only flash when a pedestrian pushes the crossing button and activates the system.

“Solar installations have proven to work effectively in Wisconsin weather conditions and the site has already been tested for solar output,” Roets told the fiscal management committee. “The pedestrian-activated high-visibility blinking lights are precisely what are needed in an intersection in which motorists cannot immediately observe pedestrians in the crosswalks.”

The school district’s share of the installation would be $3,833.

The board will honor 13 retirees at the meeting. Those being honored include: Doug Linse for 11 years with the district; Daniel Ballou for 29 years in education, 20 of which were in the district; Pamela Brown for 37 years in education, 34 in the district; Kristin Drost for her 35 years in education all served in Watertown; Timothy Gifford for his 36 years in education all served in the district; Patricia Grunseth-Petersen for her 39 years in education, 30 served in the district; Lynn Miller for her 28 1/2 years in education, 20 in the district; Sherry Provenzano for her 33 years in education in Watertown; Kirk Wackett for his 28 years in education in Watertown; Larry Birr for his 16 years with the district; Darlene Nicodemus for her 11 years with the district; Jody Thompson for her 23 1/2 years with the district and Sharon Zastrow for her 28 years with the district.

The board will hold a 6 p.m. reception for the retirees.

The board will also honor student board representatives for the school year.

In other business the board will vote on:

--School breakfast and lunch price increases.

--School fees.

--A resolution authorizing the transfer of funds and the establishment of an escrow account for the defeasance of certain general obligation school improvement bonds, dated June 11, 2012.

--A talent development plan for 2018-20.

--A collaborative three-year partnership approach with the Dodgeland School District and the Studer Education Team, as supported financially by the Watertown Community Health Foundation.

--Elective Riverside course offerings.

--2018-19 support staff offers of continuing employment.

--Summer schools staff contracts.

The consent agenda will be up for approval. That agenda includes resignations of certified staff members Michele Armentrout, Riverside teacher; Brandon Laabs, special education at Douglas; Catherine O’Connor, social worker at Lincoln; Corey Ray-Subramanian, school psychologist at Webster and Jill Vitale, Riverside teacher.

Non-certified staff resignations include: Richard Dolezal, weekend custodian; Jason Ivkovich, special education paraprofessional at Lincoln; Natalyn Nelson, instructional paraprofessional at the elementary schools and Kristene Schwartz, cleaner at high school and educational service center.

Certified staff appointments include: Wendy Canenguez, bilingual second-grade teacher at Schurz; Jessica Jones, agriculture teacher at high school; Lauren Leahy FACE teacher at high school; Emily Merritt, bilingual grade-five teacher at Schurz; and Jessica Trexler first-grade teacher at Douglas.

A non-certified staff appointment of Richard Breiby as a weekend custodian is also included.

--The board will also formally receive the NAMM award for being a best community in music education.