Worthington Schools Assistant Superintendent Randy Banks said the district plans to continue its agreements for school resource officers at both Thomas Worthington and Worthington Kilbourne high schools.

"We've been very pleased with the partnership and have found it to be effective for staff, as well as students," he said.

A year ago, the school board voted to reverse a longstanding policy on SROs, putting full-time officers on school grounds at Thomas Worthington and Worthington Kilbourne for the first time.

Thomas Worthington uses a Worthington Division of Police officer because the building is within its city limits and its jurisdiction, district spokeswoman Vicki Gnezda said last year. Worthington Kilbourne is in Columbus city limits and is in the jurisdiction of the Columbus Division of Police.

Worthington City Council on July 1 approved legislation to extend the Thomas Worthington SRO agreement with the district for one year.

Council member Beth Kowalczyk said she appreciated an annual review was included in the contract, but she wants City Council to have access to the annual evaluation to make sure the SRO is accomplishing the intent of having an officer at the school.

"In terms of looking at a three-year renewal, that concerns me that we don't have a review of the position," he said.

The district had asked for a three-year agreement, according to the July 1 agenda.

After a suggestion from council member Scott Myers, City Council approved a one-year contract, with a six-month termination notice. As part of the agreement, City Council is to be provided an evaluation of performance 5 1/2 months after the agreement starts.

The agreement could be renewed for a total of three years, and after that period, the district must enter into a new agreement with the city.

The amendment and the resolution were approved 7-0.

Assistant City Manager Robyn Stewart said the cost of the agreement is anticipated to be close to the previous year's figure.

She said the exact cost has not yet been determined because the city is in contract negotiations with the Fraternal Order of Police union.

Banks said he also anticipates the cost for each officer being around the same as or lower than the first year.

Worthington had some startup costs that would not be applicable for the second year, Banks said. The district and city evenly divided the cost last year, and the district paid $79,545, he said.

The district paid $111,780 to Columbus last year, he said.

Banks said district leaders also have requested an extension with Columbus for Worthington Kilbourne.

He said the length has not been determined, but the district plans to follow what Worthington determined.

"We're going to kind of follow their lead on duration," Banks said.

In a letter included with the July 1 Worthington council agenda, Thomas Worthington principal Pete Scully outlined the effect resource officer Sean Ord has had on the school community.

"He focused on building relationships with students and staff," Scully said. "There were very few issues that arose from his presence, and frankly, (they) were less significant because of his strength and focus area than they would have been with an officer called to assist."

Scully said students have been comfortable approaching Ord, and the animosity toward police in the building that he once observed has disappeared.

"In my first couple of years, it was not uncommon for students to call police officers names or mistreat them," he said. "Students would sometimes play 'anti-police songs' at bus duty. That type of behavior has pretty much disappeared."

The Columbus police officer assigned to Worthington Kilbourne High School for the 2018-19 school year was Steven Steenburgh.

Banks said no SRO staffing changes are anticipated for the 2019-20 school year.

He also said the district has no plans to add resource officers at any other building.

"It seems to be the trend for schools in the area, but it is not in our plans for the coming year," he said.

Linworth Alternative Program, where high school students also are enrolled, does not have an SRO, according to Gnezda.

ominnier@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekOlivia