The future of educational resource officers in Madison high schools was the topic of a school board meeting Wednesday where the board approved a new version.
Even with the board’s version in motion, the city still has to approve its own version of the contract agreement.
Board president James Howard said nearly every detail was hammered out with the city earlier. Both agreed to a standard three-year contract. Wednesday night’s meeting, though, was about adding a termination clause. The clause would allow Madison schools to opt out of the deal with Madison police as early as January 2018.
“This is standard language in contracts for the city itself,” Mary Burke, board vice president, said.
The board believes the termination language is important because it would allow them more wiggle room if they didn’t see eye to eye with Madison police down the road.
“Then you would engage in an opt-out clause,” Howard said. “Make no mistake about it, the school district is doing everything we can in collaboration with the city to make this work, we want to make this work, we want EROs (educational resource officers) in our buildings.”
Mayor Paul Soglin wants to continue the relationship, but on different terms, which would not include a January 2018 opt-out clause for the district.
“They’re pulling this unilateral stunt designed to put pressure on us and to create, in the public’s image, that this is the deal. Well, it’s not the deal and it won’t be the deal,” Soglin said.
Whatever the deal is, it needs to be decided in October. That’s when the 45-day extension, which the city and board agreed on, ends.
Soglin also thinks the school board wants to add that opt-out clause for financial reasons.
He believes the board wants the option to end the $350,000 a year contract early, and potentially place the cost on someone else.
City and school board officials will meet Thursday to continue negotiations.