BETHEL TWP. — Bethel schools will have a part-time school resource officer on campus next school year.
The board of education voted Monday night to approve an agreement with the Miami County Sheriff’s Office beginning in July. The district will pay about $31,000 for the school year, during which the deputy will spend around 80 hours on campus each month, according to Superintendent Ginny Potter.
Board president Jacob King said the board’s decision to bring an SRO into the district “sits well in my heart.”
The board requested a meeting with the sheriff and the deputy that will be assigned to the district before the next school year starts.
Potter also suggested hiring a mental health counselor for the district, separate from academic counseling, to help students with issues like anxiety, depression, conflicts with peers, learning disorders and more.
“It would address the social, emotional and mental needs of school-aged children and focuses on the overall well being of students,” Potter said.
Potter said many schools have found that when students are referred to outside mental health services, families often do not get their children to those appointments or programs. An in-school counselor would be on hand to help address issues the district is seeing more often, Potter said.
“We’re seeing more need. More anxiety, learning disorders, grief and loss or trauma,” she said. A counselor could also work with and train other staff members to recognize student needs.
Addressing student mental health needs would also boost academic performance by helping students learn to manage stress, learning disorders, or bullying so they can focus on learning, Potter added.
“Our kids, believe it or not, might be gurus on technology, but handling their own issues and social and mental distress is very difficult for them,” Potter said. “I do see it as being a very pro-active step to safety. And they have found that schools that have (in-school counselors) have fewer problems and discipline issues as time goes on.”
The board also hired a consulting company to assist the district in its search for a new treasurer at a cost of $7,900. The district hired Tammy Emrick to act as interim treasurer last October.
In a special meeting before the regular meeting Monday night, the board reviewed two quotes from consulting companies and chose K-12 Business Consulting.
“We know the finances of the school are paramount to our ability to continue to effectively manage the school and provide for our students,” King said. “We thought this was a great way for us to go forward to get the best financial advisor for the school that we can get.”
The board thanked Emrick for her service, with King calling her work for the district “phenomenal.”
In other business, the district is looking to hire several new teachers for the upcoming school year in the areas of Spanish, middle school math and special education.
Potter said hiring a new Spanish teacher could allow the district to add classes for eighth graders, fifth year Spanish at the high school and perhaps AP Spanish.
“We’re also looking at using them down in the elementary in kindergarten and first grade. They say that’s the best time to teach students an extra language and to get them to be bilingual,” Potter said.
King also announced that the district will also be joining Ohio’s Online Checkbook, a service provided by the state treasurer’s office that allows the public to track a public entity’s spending online. The board met with a representative from the treasurer’s office at a work session in March and will be working with the office to set up an online checkbook.
Reach Cecilia Fox at email@example.com.