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Board approves hiring of 2nd School Resource Officer

Woodstock and Woodstock North High Schools will each have a school resource officer dedicated to their respective schools for the 2018-2019 school year, pending City Council approval.

The Woodstock Community Unit School District 200 Board of Education Tuesday (July 17) approved a Police Liaison agreement with the City of Woodstock to hire two police officers to work on the district’s high school campuses.

The Board agreed to pay $112,416 for both officers and the City would pay the remaining salary and benefits. The City Council is expected to vote on the matter at its Aug. 7 meeting.

Previously, the two high schools shared Woodstock Police Officer Josh Rapacz, but the Feb. 14 high school shooting tragedy in Parkland, Florida sparked a peaceful demonstration at each District 200 high school and at many others around the nation. Meanwhile, District officials re-examined practical measures the district could take to improve student safety.

Superintendent Mike Moan first brought the concept of hiring an additional officer to the Board at its April 10 meeting and the Board approved his request to continue negotiating with City officials.

Woodstock police officer Josh Rapacz’s responsibilities have been shared between the two high schools, but Moan said it’s time to add a second officer.

Moan visited both high school campuses following the Parkland tragedy and had several informal discussions with students — many of whom brought up the importance of having a police officer on campus throughout the school day.

“We want to respond to their safety concerns not only as a public gesture that we share students' concerns, but because we believe that a school resource officer brings substantial practical benefits that directly impact building safety,” Moan said.

Several other area school districts employ full-time school resource officers at their high schools including all four high schools in neighboring Crystal Lake-based School District 155.

Assuming that the City Council approves the agreement, the officers would be in place for the Aug. 16 start of the coming school year. The Woodstock North High School community is pleased that Rapacz will return to campus, while officer Matt Prentice, a Woodstock High School graduate, will be assigned to his alma mater.