Kids in the West Platte School District headed back to school last week with a school resource officer (SRO) on the premises for the first time.
Earlier this month, the board of education unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding with the Platte County Sheriff’s Office, authorizing the appointment of a deputy as resource officer for the 2018-2019 school year.
At the meeting, superintendent John Rinehart said the likely candidate has served as a school resource officer in the Park Hill School District for several years and would be a good fit at West Platte.
Shortly after the meeting, it was announced deputy Michael Macey would be West Platte’s new SRO. A long-time deputy, Macey has worked as an SRO at schools in southern Platte County for the past eight years and first introduced himself to students and their families at the district back to school night.
The officer will conduct and participate in prevention and awareness campaigns for drug and alcohol usage and interact with students to promote a positive and secure educational environment, according to the MOU. The officer will work with the building administrators and superintendent to handle any situations that may arise. The armed officer does not enforce school disciplinary actions.
The officer will receive a little more than $57,000 from the district for the year and the district will contribute 80 percent of the deputy’s benefits during his service.
Building administrators also presented reports on enrollment projections for the new school year, which show West Platte with higher enrollment at both the elementary and high school levels.
At the elementary school, 60 students will begin kindergarten in West Platte this fall, a significant bump from previous years. There were 48 kindergarten students last year. In junior and high school, 28 students new to the district are enrolled. However, that number includes six foreign exchange students.
Also at the meeting, the board set the property tax levy, at the reduced rate of $4.04 per $100 assessed valuation.
In July, Rinehart presented assessment numbers showing a bump over the pervious year. West Platte’s 2018 assessed value has risen to $215,788,145, up from $211,964,806 in 2017. Rinehart said the increase was largely due to an unexpected bump in revenues from state assessed railroads and utilities.
In Missouri, such assessed valuation increases trigger a rollback of the allowable levy under the Hancock Amendment. Hancock prevents taxing entities from profiting from increased property values.
West Platte has no debt levy, and the operational levy has been set at $4.10 per $100 assessed valuation for several years. With the application of Hancock, the levy dropped to about $4.04.
West Platte has the lowest levy of the four county school districts, with Park Hill the highest at $5.39.