A student advisory group created by the St. Paul school board last fall is embarking on its first project — a timely one.

How do students get along with police officers in their schools?

The officers in question are student resource officers (SROs) — not the security guards who monitor who goes in and out of buildings.

The student group wants to know if an SRO makes a student feel welcome, safer or contributes to his or her ability to succeed in school. An officer, for example, could have served as a mentor, helped in a classroom or asked the student about his or her school work.

The group is expected to report its findings to the school board in February.

In a Facebook video introducing the project, four students who are members of the advisory group said that it also wanted opinions on whether the SROs should remain in the schools. But district officials have made clear that the SROs are in the schools to stay, and that the survey will help determine what’s working well and what kind of training should be available to the officers.

St. Paul now has nine SROs. Seven work in the high schools and two are “roving officers.” The annual budget is $954,214, with the school district covering $854,214 and the city picking up $100,000.

Anthony Lonetree

 

Osseo, Anoka target drug prevention

Drug prevention is the focus of two events next week in the Osseo and Anoka-Hennepin school districts.

The two separate programs — the Osseo district’s drug abuse prevention town hall held in partnership with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and Anoka-Hennepin’s community forum — are both Jan. 19, and aim to educate parents.

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office has held town halls on heroin over the past year and a half after an increase in opiate and heroin overdose deaths, but it’s the first time the Sheriff’s Office has partnered with school districts.

The program will explore topics ranging from current drug trends in the area to advice for parents starting talks with their teens on the subject.

In the Anoka-Hennepin district, Champlin Park High School Principal Michael George and parents had “a growing concern” that something needed to be done, said district spokesman Jim Skelly. Next week’s event is one in a three-part series continuing in March and April.

Anoka-Hennepin: Jan. 19 at Champlin Park High School auditorium, 7-8:30 p.m.

Osseo: Jan. 19 at Cross Winds United Methodist Church, 6:30-7:45 p.m.

Beena Raghavendran

 

It’s 8:30 p.m., time to adjourn in St. Paul

Anyone who has sat in on a meeting or waited for a crucial vote knows that monitoring the St. Paul school board has been no easy exercise — not with meetings that routinely extend past the 3½-hour mark.

The new board aims to change that.

Chairman Jon Schumacher has said he wants meetings to end by 8:30 p.m. True to his word, the district on Thursday released an agenda for next Tuesday calling for an 8:20 p.m. adjournment.

Schumacher said that his goal is to increase efficiency and open other ways for board members to engage with the public. Meetings at school sites are in the works, too.

Anthony Lonetree