Tuesday, September 18, 2018

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Youth services officer funding still in talks

Menomonie school board wants city to fund 40 percent of the cost

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MENOMONIE — The school board pressed the importance on Monday of hiring another youth services officer soon, and it still wants the city to fund 40 percent of the cost.

Schools Superintendent Joe Zydowsky said Monday that the city and the Police Department have been receptive of the immediate need to hire an additional youth services officer. He said the board needs to discuss if it is willing to adjust the funding split withthe city.

Board members Amy Riddle-Swanson and Penny Burstad said they are still in favor of the original split, which is a proposed 60 percent paid by the school district and 40 percent by the city.

“If it’s not broke, why fix it,” Burstad said.

This is the split for the current youth services officer in Menomonie.

Last week, a majority of the Menomonie City Council agreed to support the position with an 80/​20 split, with the city paying 20 percent and the school district covering 80 percent.

The estimated cost for the position would be $112,000, which includes salary and vehicle costs.

Zydowsky clarified that because the district boundaries extend outside the city limits, some city and town residents will be helping fund the position due to school taxes. This addresses some concerns from city council members about wanting the county and or surrounding towns to pick up some of the cost.

Police Chief Eric Atkinson told the board the new officer is meant to work alongside school staff and students. That way the officer will be able to build relationships, allowing the officer to better assess and control mental health issues, marginalized populations and crisis events at elementrary schools and the middle school.

“I really feel that this position will be a benefit for you,” he said.

The school board intended for the potential new hire to start at the beginning of this upcoming school year, but Atkinson explained last week at a city council meeting the hire will have to start on Jan. 1 due to the amount of training needed. Zydowsky said he agrees.

No action was taken Monday, and Zydowsky said a formal proposal will be drafted and passed along to the city council in coming months.

• In other news, the board unanimously approved transfers of $1.75 million into the district’s trust fund for post-employment benefits. This is a result of lower-than-expected health insurance and transportation costs, the receipt of some previously unanticipated Medicaid funding and an untapped contingency fund during the 2017-18 school year.

Agenda material states the updated projections for the 2017-18 budget will put the district in the black by approximately 2.5 percent of the total budget.

Contact: 715-830-5840, ben.rueter@ecpc.com, @BenRueter on Twitter

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