Woodstock School District 200 plans to add a second school resource officer to staff its high schools.
The District 200 board recently approved a request to negotiate with the city for an additional officer.
Woodstock police officer Josh Rapacz spends his time between both Woodstock High School and Woodstock North High School.
District 200 Superintendent Mike Moan said he wants to take proactive measures because of parents’ and students’ concerns after recent school shootings and walkouts.
“Our kids told me they feel safer with an officer in the building,” Moan said. “They feel like having that presence in the building makes a difference for them.”
Moan met with students at both district high schools after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and some students said having the officer around makes them feel more comfortable.
“It’s proactive. They build relationships with students. If they have questions or concerns, they can address them with an officer,” Moan said. “Having a school resource officer in the buildings has a number of benefits.”
The City Council will need to approve the plan.
District 200 pays about $61,900 of the officer’s contract.
Many schools have said school resource officers can prevent crises by investigating incidents before they escalate.
Woodstock North Principal Darlea Livengood said the days are rare when school officials don’t rely on Rapacz’s expertise to deal with certain situations.
He recently took charge after a teenager sent a threatening message and a picture of a gun to a classmate via social media in February.
High school officials contacted Rapacz, who worked with detectives to find and interview the student and his guardian.
The teen later was arrested.
Other area school districts employ full-time school resource officers at their high schools, including all four high schools in neighboring Community High School District 155.
Woodstock North High School had 942 students in 2017, and Woodstock High School had 1,026, according to the Illinois State Board of Education.