Plan to hire extra security personnel at Davenport school could be held up by cost

DAVENPORT, Iowa – With safety concerns at schools in the United States being front of mind for school leaders, the Davenport School District is talking about a proposal to improve their security measures.

School administrators were looking to hire additional employees who would be focused on safety and security around the district.

The proposal includes hiring the following positions:

  • 1 security and safety specialist
  • 1 coordinator of student participation
  • 1 mental health coordinator
  • 4 additional school resource officers
  • an undetermined amount of caseworkers
  • an undetermined amount of security guards

Dr. Art Tate explained that anytime a tragedy happens, like the deadly shooting in Parkland, Florda, it prompts school leaders to take a look at their own procedures.

"We look all the time at school security, we look at it to see what can we learn," said Dr. Tate.

The added employees, however, would cost an estimated $1.5 million, Tate said. He said the district has the money but that he would need to dip into a $30 million reserve fund.  To access that money, he would need state approval.

"I don’t want to have to make a decision between security and education," said Dr. Tate. "That’s not fair to have us do that so I’ve actually asked the state legislation to find a way to do this before the session is over."

Back in 2015, Dr. Tate exceeding state spending by using money from the reserve fund to combat millions in budget cuts and to keep teachers on the payroll.  But he said dipping in without state authorization is not in the cards this time.

"I did that once before and I’m not suggesting I’m going to do it this time," he said.  "I haven’t given that a thought. I’m expecting they can find the will and do it legislatively."

The legislative session is scheduled to end on April 17th.

Members of the school board, administrators and others were included at a Committee of the Whole meeting Monday, April 2nd.  At that meeting they planned to discuss the proposal and offer feedback to Dr. Tate's administration.