The Kingston City School District’s Board of Education last week unanimously approved a 30-day extension of existing arrangements with police from the City of Kingston and Town of Ulster for school resource officers to allow more time to present revised contracts for their future relationships.
“The reason for this extension is so we can continue to actually look at the current contracts and the conversations happening with our School Resource Officers (SRO) Committee to make sure that we can come to an agreeable agreement with both the city and the town,” district superintendent Paul Padalino said during a School Board meeting held on Wednesday, September 1. “So this 30 days gives us that opportunity, though obviously, you know, the SRO Committee worked for the last few months.”
The School Resource Officers Committee is comprised of various members of the school community and the community at large.
“It gives us the opportunity to work with and work on the contracts with the municipalities, and that’s something that is in line with conversations that have been going on in the School Resource Officers Committee,” Padalino said.
Among the details still being addressed are the introduction of a uniform different from the one officers wear with their police departments, training to ensure equity in dealing with students of color, formalizing the complaint process, and adding further detail to daily activity logs. Padalino said the new contracts are being finalized with both police departments based upon recommendations by the SRO Committee.
The role of the SRO in Kingston schools has been debated in and outside the committee over the past few years, with a petition started on MoveOn by Rise Up Kingston calling for the immediate removal of school resource officers from the district reaching 1,824 signatures, and a petition advocating for keeping the SRO started by KAFE (Kingston Action For Education) on change.org reaching 1,414.
The cost of extending the current contracts for one month was not revealed, but the district’s annual 2019-20 SRO contracts paid $369,369 to the City of Kingston and $69,369 to the Town of Ulster. Kingston’s police department provides two officers for Kingston High School and one for J. Watson Bailey Middle School, while Ulster’s police department provides one officer for M. Clifford Miller Middle School.