McGregor Police Chief James Burson (left) and McGregor ISD Superintendent James Lenamon walk outside McGregor High School. The district and department are joining to hire McGregor’s first school resource officer ahead of next school year.

At least one new face will stand out at McGregor schools next school year as the district’s first school resource officer starts in August.

The city of McGregor and McGregor Independent School District are starting a five-year agreement for the position, and it will be a welcome addition to the district of 1,475 students, Superintendent James Lenamon said.

“From the school’s point of view, all you have to do is look around, and these events that seem to be taking place everywhere except here seem to be getting closer and closer to home,” Lenamon said. “I wish I could take credit for this saying. But (parents) send us their kids safe every day, and it’s our job to get them home safe every afternoon, so we looked at every option.”

McGregor officers already visit the schools and walk their hallways on a regular basis, but having an officer dedicated to the district under a formal agreement will be new, McGregor Police Chief James Burson said.

The officer is expected to be hired in the spring and undergo training specific to work in a school environment. The officer will be employed by the city but will only work school days and events, with no requirement to take on city-specific duties during summer break.

The total cost in the first year to hire, train and pay the new officer will be about $80,250. The school district will pay 75% of that, about $60,190, and the city will pay the rest.

The McGregor ISD Board of Trustees looked into various school safety programs, including partnerships with the city or McLennan County Sheriff’s Office, and state programs that would train and arm school personnel. Trustees ultimately decided the partnership with McGregor would be the best option, Lenamon said.

Burson said he hopes the new school resource officer will have some instructional opportunities with students, in addition to being there to support them.

Lenamon said he expects the officer’s interactions with students will benefit the students, as well as the district and community as a whole.

“The negative vibe that sometimes flows toward law enforcement, it can also flow toward schools as well,” Lenamon said. “That typically comes because individuals have not had positive interactions with school, with law enforcement, and I think this is a way our little corner of the world can make a difference and our folks will know our police department is here to help us and take care of us.”

Kristin Hoppa has been covering public safety and breaking news for the Tribune-Herald since January 2016. She worked in Northwest Missouri covering crime-related issues before her move to Central Texas. She is a University of Kansas graduate.

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