School, city discuss resource officer

MARSHALL – Members of the Marshall City Council and the Marshall School Board met in a joint work session on Monday afternoon.

School Board Chairman Jeff Chapman said the meeting was an opportunity to share information on services and projects that affect both the city and public schools.

“I’m excited about this meeting,” Chapman said. Working together has proved an important tool for the city and school district over the past several years, he said.

An update on the Marshall School Resources Officer program led off the agenda. Jim Marshall of the Marshall Police Department explained the history of the resource officer program and went over the memorandum of understanding between the city and the Marshall school district.

Discussions about the resource officer agreement were started in early 2013, after a police staff shortage led to a suggestion of reducing the resource officer’s hours in the schools. At the time, the suggestion was not well-received. Chapman said school and city representatives went on to have increased communication on the program as a result.

Jim Marshall said the resource officer program between Marshall Police and Marshall Public Schools started in 1998. However, he said the idea of having school resource officers had been catching on in other parts of the country before that. Under the terms of the Marshall memorandum, the city provides a resource officer, the school district provides office space and support, and costs for officer pay and training are split 50/50 between the city and school district.

As part of the program, resource officers file daily reports, monthly logs and collect year-end statistics of their activities. In 2006, the resource officer responded to 151 calls requiring police action, Marshall said. In 2013, that number had grown to 199 calls, plus 268 incidents that were able to be handled internally, he said.

Bruce Lamprecht, financial director for Marshall Public Schools, said the district and Marshall Police will continue to review the resource officer program and update the official job expectations for local resource officers. Superintendent Klint Willert said those changes would affect operating procedures, but not the terms of the memorandum of understanding between the school and Marshall Police.

City council and school board members also talked about upcoming development and infrastructure projects near the site of Marshall High School and the future Marshall amateur sports center. Marshall City Administrator Ben Martig said the sports center is entering the design process this summer. Specific plans and cost estimates for the project would all be part of that process.

Before construction begins, however, Martig and Marshall Public Works Director Glenn Olson said the city and school district will need to consider some of the groundwork involved. An existing drainage pond near the high school will be enlarged, and two more ponds are being built near the intersection of Highway 19 and Highway 23. Olson said it could be possible to use the drainage ponds to help meet water needs for athletic fields.

Willert added that the “dirt work” would need to include leveling out the grade on some of the land around the high school and sports center – especially in areas that could be made into athletic fields. All of this could also tie into moving or getting rid of the construction dirt piles already on the property, he said.

“We want to move that dirt as quickly as possible,” Willert said.

Summer is an opportune time, he said, because school athletic activities have finished.

Olson said other future concerns the city and school will need to address include utility easements, parking and road access to the sports center. Traffic along Tiger Drive would increase significantly, Olson said, and the school district will need to think about transitioning ownership of the road to the city.