A new and possibly groundbreaking partnership involving the Cove, Imbler, North Powder and Union school districts may be on the horizon.

Cove, Imbler, North Powder and Union school district leaders are looking into the possibility of sharing a Union County Sheriff’s deputy who would serve as their collective school resource officer. The prospect may prove to be financially feasible because of additional funding school districts are receiving from the state as a result of Measure 98, which voters passed in 2016. The measure mandates that the state provide school districts with funding for dropout prevention, career technical programs and college readiness. School districts are receiving approximately $400 per high school student via Measure 98.

Imbler School District Superintendent Angie Lakey-Campbell explained that the money from Measure 98 might be able to be used to hire a school resource officer because this would help with dropout prevention. Lakey-Campbell, who was an educator at the Cambridge School District in Cambridge, Idaho, before becoming Imbler’s superintendent in 2014, said she has had good experiences with school resource officers. The superintendent noted that the school resource officers in the Cambridge School District were able to connect with students.

“The kids saw (the law enforcement officer) in a different light, as a real person,” Lakey-Campbell said.

She said students who were at risk of not graduating were among those who formed a connection with the school resource officer.

Lakey-Campbell noted that many Cambridge High School graduates went on to pursue careers in law enforcement after the district added a school resource officer. She believes the presence of a school resource officer encouraged students to consider law enforcement careers.

North Powder School District Superintendent Lance Dixon is also a supporter of the school resource officer proposal.

“A school resource officer would be very valuable,” he said.

Dixon said the North Powder School District has already decided how it will spend its Measure 98 funding for 2017-18. Much of it will go toward expanding the school district’s career technical education program. He stressed, however, that he would be willing to support a consortium for a school resource officer with money from the district’s general fund.

He said he would like to see a school resource officer added this school year, but realizes this might not be realistic.

“That might be too fast for everything to fall together,” Dixon said.

He said a school resource officer would help with attendance and safety issues and make some students realize that law enforcement officers are here to help people, not just deal with those who are causing problems.

See complete story in Friday's Observer