We Need Safety, Not Bureaucracy
The LIBA School Liaison Committee would like to share their continued support of Lincoln Public Schools by announcing the endorsement of additional School Resource Officers (SRO). This is a logical step to increase the safety of our children.
While many will debate the need for six to 12 officers, LIBA suggests we hire 12 SRO’s and that we start the process immediately.
The other debate will be about creating a Joint Public Agency (JPA) to fund the officers, mental health counselors and additional security needs. LIBA supports the goals but stands firmly against creating another JPA government body.
First, creating a JPA might allow some School Board members to deflect criticism. They could claim school security is out of their control and they can instruct citizens to go deal with the JPA.
We are also concerned that the JPA proposal is being touted as levy-neutral this year. Even if that fact is true, there is nothing to prevent the City from increasing their levy in future years.
State law allows JPA government bodies to levy and collect a property tax, enter into contracts, issue debt and revenue bonds, purchase land, build buildings, and hire staff.
Right now, LPS and the city have agreements in place for SRO’s at Lincoln High Schools and for community learning centers. LIBA suggests we simply amend the current agreements to accomplish the goals. We need safety, not bureaucracy.
In 2010, Mayor Beutler eliminated many of our School Resource officers. Two years later, in 2012, Mayor Beutler placed regular police officers on the chopping block. In 2013, it was LIBA that led the charge with a press conference to call for more police in our community. LIBA continues to seek more police and that includes officers in our schools.
Now is the time to act, and the funding is available! For two years in a row, a revaluation windfall is giving the city and school millions in new tax dollars. Let’s spend those dollars on the security of our community. It’s about priority spending!
Let’s look at the raw numbers. Lincoln Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister told LIBA in an email that a School Resource Officer costs a total of $100,000 per year. We suggest hiring 12 officers at a total cost of $1.2 Million.
The city of Lincoln will get a minimum of $2 million in new money just from the major commercial property valuation change this year. LPS will receive more than $9 million in new money from the valuation. Plus, LPS is receiving another $20 million in brand new money from the state of Nebraska. The Education Service Unit (ESU) will also get new money from valuations. As you can see, it’s easy to fund the $1.2 million for 12 new Resource officers and there will be tens of millions left over to hire mental health counselors, support after school programs and add school security. There is so much new money that LPS could even consider lowering their property tax levy – but let’s leave that debate for another day.
LIBA and the citizens of Lincoln recently supported more than $400 million in construction projects. Many of the projects added security measures and reconstructed secure entryways into our schools. LIBA further supports new funding for school officers, learning centers, mental health counselors and school security! However, we cannot support a new JPA government body. Again, we need safety, not bureaucracy.
LIBA studies and promotes these types of issues that are important to businesses and our community. If you have an interest in joining LIBA, please call me at (402) 466-3419. LIBA membership is not restricted to just businesses. We also have “individual” memberships for those who want to help influence our local government decisions.
For more information on LIBA, visit Liba.org.