Public weighs in on school safety plans

On Monday, the Lincoln City Council heard testimony on two proposals for increasing schools safety.

The city, Lincoln Public Schools and Lincoln police proposed one plan to establish a joint public agency, or JPA.

It would add police officers, or SROs, to Lincoln middle schools and increase funds for community learning center programs where students can get help with their school work and connect with teachers after school hours.

Some said they applaud the JPA plan because it serves many important needs.

"I really appreciate the three main points and the systematic nature of combining protective, preventative and proactive forces together," said Jeff Cole of Lincoln

Some question the idea of adding SROs to middle schools.

"Some studies have shown that SROs in schools did not increase safety," said Dewayne Mays of the Lincoln NAACP.  We are concerned that a militaristic school system as proposed in this JPA is just another pipeline to prison for young children of color."

Others voiced concerns over funding the JPA.

"It creates a new form of government and it also would create a new line item on our property taxes," said Lincoln Independent Business Association President and CEO Coby Mach.

Mach said LIBA favors the second proposal by Councilwoman Cyndi Lamm, which would also add six to 12 SROs in middle schools over the next two years.

Lamm said taxes would not go up under her plan because it would tap into property tax revenue currently available.

"The funding is available because of all the additional money that is flowing into the city and Lincoln Public Schools this year," Mach said.  "We don’t need a new tax to do it."

City Council is set to vote on the JPA proposal on May 14.  It’s currently scheduled to vote on Lamm’s resolutions on the 7th, but there’s a chance for it to also be pushed back to the 14th.