The first day of classes for the Central Lee School District is August 23. Students, faculty, and staff will notice an extra level of security when they arrive on campus.
The district has added a School Resource Officer (SRO) through an agreement with Lee County and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Stacy Weber said Deputy Tommy Oberman, who is already Central Lee’s DARE instructor, will be assigned to the district.
Superintendent Andy Crozier said the district had been looking for a way to add an SRO for several years, describing it as a high priority to improving the educational environment.
“It takes some time to get those agreements in place and have everything worked out,” said Crozier. “We just feel like from a school safety perspective to the expertise and advice we can get on our emergency planning, having an SRO to provide support was a pretty valuable asset. We thought this would be a huge plus for our students and staff at Central Lee.”
Crozier said Oberman will be on duty while students are in class, roughly 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. He will have an office in the high school but will spend plenty of time in the neighboring K-8 building.
“That way when kids get to the high school, they will know who he is and will have interacted with him in their day-to-day lives,” said Crozier.
“They can feel comfortable confiding in him, whether it’s an abuse situation at home or whether it’s exposure to drugs or alcohol, or just something they are not comfortable with and they need to go and talk to someone that they feel that they can trust and that they can get some help with, that SRO fits that role.”
Crozier said having an officer on campus will also improve response time during an emergency. The Central Lee campus is located along Highway 218 outside Donnellson, at least a ten minute drive for the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.
The Central Lee School District and the Lee County Board of Supervisors entered into a three-year agreement regarding the SRO.
Central Lee will pay the county $135,000 over the next three years to help pay for the position. Both the school district and the county plan to apply for grant money to help cover the costs.
The Sheriff’s Office said it would have to reshuffle its patrol schedule with Oberman moving to the school district and no new deputy to replace him.