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High school will not have liaison

May 8, 2008

There will not be a police liaison officer walking the halls of St. Francis High School this fall.

Despite the city's offer to pay half the $70,000 cost of an officer for the 2008-09 school year, St. Francis School District officials said their portion of the bill would be too expensive.

The district has not had a school liaison officer since 2003, St. Francis Police Chief Brian Kaebisch said.

Superintendent Carol Topinka said the board's decision not to hire the officer was based on economics.

"Our half would equal the cost of a teacher," she said.

Although there is no officer in the high school during the day, Topinka said police frequently drive near the schools in the morning and afternoon and monitor surrounding areas. The Police Department also provides other services to the schools, such as hosting meetings with parents to promote awareness about Internet dangers and lecturing students during assemblies.

If there is an emergency in schools, officers are called immediately, she said. Most recently, officers promptly responded to a bomb threat that was discovered in the girls' bathroom. The suspect has yet to be found.

Kaebisch said a part-time school liaison officer patrolled the high school for the 1998-99 school year. The position became full time in 2000 after the department received a three-year state grant. City Administrator Ralph Voltner said restrictions on the grant prohibited officials from re-applying for it. No liaison has been in the school since 2003 because city and school officials have not been able to agree on a cost-sharing plan, he said.

Chantel Balzell can be reached at (262) 446-6602.

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