Wauwatosa's and are making progress toward the hiring of a fourth school resource officer, Superintendent of Schools Phil Ertl said Monday night.
Police officers are now assigned to each of the high school buildings, and one is shared between and middle schools. A fourth hire would fulfill a longstanding desire of Ertl's.
"My goal has been getting one in every secondary building and getting them building those relationships," Ertl told the School Board in announcing his initiative.
Based on past practice and discussions he's had with the Police Department and the city administration, Ertl said, the city would likely pay 25 percent of the cost of the position with the School District paying 75 percent. That would also amount to about a $25,000/$75,000 split, Ertl said, based on the cost of funding a full-time officer's salary and benefits.
The schools' portion would be paid out of an existing fund balance in the Community Services Fund, which stood at a little below $1 million going into the school year. The job would not take a position away from regular policing; it would be an additional position on the force.
Police Capt. Dale Weiss said Tuesday that while his department's first priority would remain fielding the necessary number of patrol officers on city streets, progress was being made toward an agreement on hiring a fourth resource officer.
"We're looking at maybe the first part of next year," Weiss said.
It isn't a job for a rookie.
"It would be a senior officer," Weiss said. "The minimum requirement was two years, but I think we've actually raised that.
"We look at everything. We look at their background, their supervisors evaluate them. They go through a process, they interview for the job. We got a lot of people interested last time — I think we had six or seven candidates."
School Board member Phil Kroner wanted to know Monday night whether there were rising disciplinary issues driving the discussion, but Ertl said that wasn't the case.
"I just see it as a positive presence," Ertl said. "It builds respect."
Board member Michael Meier championed the idea, saying, "There's a benefit that goes beyond the school building and that reaches into the community."
Ertl went even further with that thought. "I think there's more of an impact on the community than there is in the school itself. Kids' problems are not isolated in a school building. But it's a place where they can be identified."