Police protection at Columbus high schools will cost the district a bit more than usual this year.

Police protection at Columbus high schools will cost the district a bit more than usual this year.

At its April 15 meeting, the Columbus Board of Education unanimously voted to increase its annual payment to the Columbus Division of Police, which places officers in high schools as part of its school resource program.

The additional cost to the district will be about $28,000, with the new price tag coming in at about $728,000. No new officers will be added.

Most of the district's high schools have a full-time officer on premises.

The district and the division of police split the cost of the officers, and have done so since Superintendent Gene Harris worked out a deal with the city seven years ago.

Harris said she believed this is the first time since the initial negotiation that the program's cost has increased.

"When we first started the program the city was able to afford offering police officers to us for no cost," said board president Terry Boyd, "but because of their budget we now pay 50 percent of the cost of the police officers."

Harris said the officers serve an important function in the schools and help prevent neighborhood problems from spilling into to the school and vice versa.

"They are able to prevent things that we had no idea (of)," Harris said after the meeting. "Students are willing to talk to them and share information with them."

In other business, the board received a report from a group charged with monitoring its meetings and commenting on them.

The report, compiled by the External Monitoring Committee, whose members attended each meeting, tracked both the seven-member board's positive and negative behaviors from January through March.

In general, the 12-page document was fairly balanced on the amount of criticism and praise the board received, with more time spent on things it could do to improve meetings.

One of the criticisms the committee noted of the board was that Boyd did not share with the audience the election results of president and vice president at the beginning of the year.

"It would be helpful for audience education and awareness, particularly since the audience was whispering about it," the report stated.

Other complaints were that officials had sidebar conversations and passed notes during the 30-minute public comment portion of the meetings and that an unnamed member left during the public comment at the March 18 meeting. At the time, speakers were addressing potential changes to the district's construction policies.

Nonetheless, the board received high marks in other areas, including using administration members to effectively answer questions and that comments on the consent agenda were well thought out.