What your school district pays for school resource officers depends on where you live in Bellevue.
A new three-year agreement between the City of Bellevue and Omaha Public Schools sets the SRO fee at $93,169.44 — more than double (118%) last year’s $42,653.29 charge to OPS.
Bellevue Public Schools this school year pays $25,000, nearly four times less than the city charges OPS.
That difference ($68,169.44), City Administrator Jim Ristow said, is based on financial credits the city awards BPS to allow the city to use facilities for city recreation programs.
BPS and OPS are each assigned two SROs — Bellevue West High School (plus support for Logan Middle School) and Bellevue East High School (plus support for Mission Middle School) for BPS and Bryan High School and Bryan Middle School for OPS. A Bellevue police supervisor oversees all four SROs.
BPS’ Lewis and Clark Middle School is not mentioned in the agreement. Prior to last year’s annexations, Lewis and Clark was outside city limits.
Each school district negotiates its agreement with the city. The BPS agreement is an annual rollover agreement first signed in 2014. It does not state a specific monetary figure, only “BPS will pay 50% of the SRO’s wages and benefits for the school year including summer school hours if requested.”
The current OPS-Bellevue agreement has an exact annual rate per SRO “based on the annual salary for a Bellevue Police Officer at step 8 of the Bellevue Police Officers Association, BPOA, wage schedule and the annual increase is due to a typical 2% BPOA agreement pay increase.”
Bellevue Police Capt. Dave Stukenholtz said he requested a review of the OPS contract, “that we make the compensation similar to what Douglas County and Omaha are receiving.”
Stukenholtz said OPS agreed to terms and signed the contract Dec. 2 of last year.
The City-OPS SRO agreement is similar to other city-school district contracts:
• Papillion La Vista Community Schools - City of Papillion, four SROs, $227,093 for the current school year.
• Papillion La Vista Community Schools - City of La Vista, one SRO, $56,000 for 2018-19 school year.
• Gretna Public Schools - Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office, two SROs, $87,572.62 for the 2018-19 school year.
• South Sarpy School District (Springfield Platteview Community Schools) - Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office, one SRO, $48,193.59 for the 2018-19 school year.
• Millard Public Schools - City of Omaha, three SROs, approximately $82,000 per year per SRO;
• District 66 (Westside) - City of Omaha, two SROs, approximately $82,000 per year per SRO;
• Elkhorn Public Schools - City of Omaha, one SRO, approximately $82,000 and an associate SRO at a maximum of $27,451 per year.
• Ralston Public Schools - City of Ralston, one SRO, $32,989 for the current school year.
Ristow said the city’s relationship with BPS is the reason it credits the district nearly $70,000 this school year for the same service provided to OPS.
“We’ve used the Lied [Activity Center], we use their gym courts for rec leagues, ball fields, just a variety of things that the schools allow us to use,” Ristow said of the agreement with BPS.
“Let’s say we bill [BPS] 96 [$96,000] and they bill us back 75 [$75,000] for use of their facilities, does it make sense that we’re just transferring dollars back and forth?”
According to information provided by the city, BPS is credited $20,000 a year to allow youth baseball and softball teams to practice on school property.
Other credits the city provided:
• $12,000 for adult programs including volleyball and basketball at the Lied Activity Center;
• $10,000 for youth basketball at multiple facilities for practice and games;
• $4,100 for youth track to use Bellevue East High School track;
• $3,200 for youth and adult tennis lessons at East;
• $900 for swim league at East;
• $750 for a youth football clinic at East.
The credit figures provided by the city add up to $50,950 — $17,219.44 short of the $68,169.44 difference between BPS and OPS agreements.
Neither the 2014 Memorandum of Understanding nor the most recent agreement signed in August by Mayor Rusty Hike makes any mention of credits due BPS, though it does state, “The amount of payment will also consider other costs incurred by BPS and the city from other agreements and will be agreed upon mutually.”
According to a March 6, 2013 Bellevue Leader story, compensation for SRO services was an ongoing discussion that year between city and BPS officials.
Prior to the 2014-15 school year, the city did not collect payment from BPS for SRO services at East and West high schools. OPS, on the other hand, paid $47,128 for the 2013-14 school year for SROs at Bryan High and Bryan Middle.
The discussion between the city and BPS in 2013 centered on the amount of credit due BPS for the city’s use of its facilities. It was eventually approved by a unanimous council vote for BPS to pay $25,000 for SRO services provided by the Bellevue Police Department.
Stukenholtz said comparing the SRO contracts is comparing apples to oranges because of the credits allowed to BPS.
“It’s a completely different set of circumstances, but we do similar work at both schools,” he said. “We have two SROs assigned to OPS and two to BPS, and one supervisor who supervises all four of them.”
The police captain said less the credits due BPS, he suspects the financial arrangement might be similar.
“Whether that would be where we would end up or not, I have no idea,” he said. “If you wanted to start over from scratch and start somewhere, you could certainly start at that point.”