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Libby schools budget committee agrees on SRO levy proposal

by Luke Hollister Western News
| March 22, 2019 4:00 AM

The Libby Public Schools Budget & Finance Committee members agreed on a budget and levy proposal for a potential student resource officer Wednesday at a meeting in the administration building.

The mill levy of 5.52 would cost taxpayers roughly $7.44 for every $100,000 of taxable property. The revenue would employ an SRO through the school for $70,000 a year with the help of a grant by Flathead Electric Cooperative.

Libby Public Schools Superintendent Craig Barringer said there are people on the city council who already support the levy.

“I think it would be somewhat of an easy sell,” he said. The levy is worth asking for.

The school does not have a lot of serious issues now and the community should ensure it stays that way, he said.

Though, at the moment, the school has problems with kids vaping, he said. “It is very challenging to catch.”

Having an officer around would help curb the problem, he said.

Barringer reminded the committee that the school board has until the end of the month to decide on details with the levy. The voting would be with a walk-in ballot, he said.

Ellen Johnston, chair of the school board, said parents have already asked the school why it does not have a resource officer.

The police chief and the mayor have essentially told the school board to put the levy out their and let citizens choose what they want, she said. “It was kind of like a dare.”

If the school can get votes from the firemen and its teachers, then the levy will win, she said.

“I don’t think that we have anything to lose,” she said.

Libby Public Schools Special Services/Curriculum Director Scott Beagle -- who is also on the Libby Volunteer Fire Department -- said if an SRO makes most parents feel like their kids are safer, then the school is obligated to have one.

After the school board accepts the levy proposal and once it gets on the ballot, the next step is to start promoting the SRO position, he said.

The budget committee is scheduled to meet again at noon on Tuesday. The agenda includes “set general fund levy for school resource officer.”