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Helena's School Resource Officer Program To Continue

School bus.
School bus.

The Helena School District’s School Resource Officer (SRO) program will continue after a vote on July 27 by the Helena City Commission.

Commissioners voted unanimously to back a proposal by Commissioner Emily Dean to continue the contract that provides uniformed Helena Police Department officers in the city’s public schools through June 2021.

The Helena Independent Record reports the commission vote also released nearly $300,000 in funding for the police department that had been on hold pending the SRO decision. It also calls for an extended review of the program and development of a new memorandum of understanding to be worked out by the school district with input from health care providers, teachers, students and families.

During a lengthy public hearing in early July opponents of the officers’ presence in schools said students of color were disproportionately punished for minor offenses. Supporters said officers on the school campuses improve school safety and form relationships with the students.

KTVH-TV reports the decision to continue the SRO program was praised by Helena school board chairman Luke Muszkiewicz who said school officials did not want any resources removed from the school campuses this close to the start of the school year.

Copyright 2020 Yellowstone Public Radio

Kay Erickson has been working in broadcasting in Billings for more than 20 years. She spent well over a decade as news assignment editor at KTVQ-TV before joining the staff at YPR. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, with a degree in broadcast journalism. Shortly after graduation she worked in Great Falls where she was one of the first female sports anchor and reporter in Montana.
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