School Resource Officer agreement delayed by Mayor’s objections

By Jack Mayne

Mayor Michael Siefkes expressed reservations over what usually is a routine new agreement with the Highline School District for a school resource officer, suggesting that three-year proposal was too long and the $22,500 payment to the city was insufficient.

In the Council’s only meeting in August – the next meeting s Sept. 12 – City Manager Joe Scorcio said the latest estimate of city population shows an increase of 1,040 residents to 28,850, adding the main reason for the growth was the new apartments at Angle Lake.

Most of the activity was at the Council’s 5 p.m. regular study session, with routine approvals during the main Council session.

School Resource Officer
Police Chief Lisa Mulligan said a preliminary agreement with the Highline School District was for a city new three-year financial agreement with the district to “offset a portion of the cost for a School Resource Officer at the Tyee Educational Complex and Chinook Middle Schools” effective next school term and through the 2019-20 school year.

But Mayor Siefkes took exception to a proposed three-year agreement with the Highline School District for continuation of a long-time agreement to provide a city police officer to the district’s school inside SeaTac.

“I don’t think that is fair,” Siefkes said of the three-year agreement if it is just to match the city’s new biennial budget process.

He proposed a single year contract to get into sync with the biennial city budget.

Deputy Mayor Pam Fernald said the length of the agreement was discussed and approved in Council’s Public Safety and Justice Committee and told the mayor, “I’m sorry you missed all the ins and outs of it.”

Councilmember Rick Forschler suggested the staff bring to the next Council meeting a one-year agreement along with a three-year agreement.

“And, of course we will have to talk with the school district about the one-year agreement,” said City Manager Joe Scorcio.

In the end, the matter was held at the behest of Siefkes and Forschler. Unusual because Council rules usually require three members to hold such a proposed agreement.

Increases each year
The proposed agreement would have had the school district paying SeaTac a total of $225,000 as its contribution to the cost of providing the city officer for the next three years. The school district would also pay the city $72,500 for the coming school year said Police Chief Mulligan, an 18.1 percent increase over last year. The schools would pay $75,000 the following year and $77,000 in the third and final year of the proposed agreement.

In the past the city signed single year contracts, and plans to move to a two-year agreements after getting in sync with the biennial budget process SeaTac adopted last year.

Mulligan told the Council that school resource officers are “fully commissioned law enforcement officers who are assigned to designated schools for the duration of the 180 day school year.” They also give the school a “critical, extra layer of security on campus (and) their purpose is to develop positive relationships with the students, staff, parents and surrounding communities in order to address problem behaviors and resolve issues that could otherwise spill over.”

The city has been providing a SeaTac Police officer in this function since 2006. The SeaTac School Resource Officer now is Jason Klinger and he patrols the school campus and coordinate added police assistance as needed along still responding to nearby calls as needed. He also conducts home visits with parents of at-risk students.

Councilmembers Tony Anderson and Kathryn Campbell and Deputy Mayor Pam Fernald were supporting of the proposed contract.

School official needed
Mayor Michael Siefkes was not and asked why the school district did not have a person before the Council with Chief Mulligan.

“This is basically the City of SeaTac subsidizing the school district security for three years for $350,000 and I don’t see anybody here for the school district at all,” Siefkes said, asking the chief if she knew why.

“I didn’t invite the, never have been here before, never has been a consideration for them to be at this table,” said Mulligan.

She said the schools have an armed security officer on campus in addition to the city police officer and also another armed security officer on occasion but “those folks don’t do what our school resource officers do.”

Promotions and appointment
City Manager Joe Scorcio introduced newly promoted Budget Analyst Alexis Briggs, and a new employee, Graphic Design Specialist and Administrative Assistant Janna Kushneryk.

The Council confirmed the mayor’s reappointment of Taryn Hill to the Arts, Culture and Library Advisory Committee.

Comments are closed.