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Tribal cops to work with Waubun school

Students in the Waubun-Ogema-White Earth school district will be soon be under additional scrutiny.

It's a result of the district's administration adding a part-time school resource officer - a police officer who is on school grounds as part of their official duties - and upgrading video cameras on buses.

The district plans to contract with the White Earth tribal police for SRO services.

The thinking behind an SRO is having a police presence during certain times of the day on school grounds.

Superintendent Mitch Anderson said that the officers would come to the schools in Ogema and Waubun for 8 to 10 hours a week.

A preliminary plan is for the SRO to be around when buses arrive in the morning, during lunch hour and then come back when school is let out.

"When we do have situations, they usually fall in those times," Anderson said.

There is a difference between how the Waubun district is procuring SRO services compared to a traditional method. Instead of having the same police officer show up day after day, the school will receive visits from officers who are passing through the area.

Anderson said that having the same officer is preferable because SRO's can develop a rapport with students, but staffing issues with the tribal police make that difficult at the moment.

Initially, the tribal police balked at providing an SRO at those times. Anderson replied that he just wanted officers to stop by when they are in the area.

The district will pay the tribe $20.50 per hour for SRO services.

Tribal police would also help staff school events such as football and basketball games, and prom.

Instead of signing a contract, the district will draw up a memorandum of understanding outlining pay and logging of hours.

"They're not real keen on holding a contract with us," Anderson said.

Anderson said the reasoning behind the tribal police's stance was that if a dispute came up with the logging of hours, the police would consider the contract null and void.

The issue of bus cameras came up because several cameras are not functioning or are in severe disrepair.

Currently, bus cameras use VHS tapes and a new system would be digital and record video and audio onto hard drives.

The board approved spending approximately $8,000 for the new camera systems and will buy the equipment through M&W Service Center in Ogema.

Anderson and secondary school principal Helen Kennedy said they each view bus footage about a dozen times throughout a given school year and it's a nice resource to have if a situation does come up.

One advantage of having a hard drive-based system is that it will allow about half a school year's worth of footage to be recorded before needing to be archived or deleted. That comes in handy if an incident is reported to the school down the line from when it actually happened.

In other action, the board approved certifying the maximum levy of $952,527 for 2009.

Because the levy number decreased by 6 percent, the board isn't required to hold a truth in taxation meeting in December.

But the board thought it would be good to do so anyway.

"I think it's nice to have one," said board member Tom Teiken.

The board also received a demonstration of the new SMART boards that were purchased with an Enhancing Education Through Technology grant.

The $146,000 grant allowed the district to buy 20 SMART boards with projectors, two mobile computing labs, interactive math software and a Texas Instruments Navigator calculator system.

Most importantly, technology specialist Brian Norman said that 25 percent of the grant - required in the terms of the award - goes towards training teachers on how to use the new technology.

The boards are touch-sensitive and allow teachers to interact with presentations while still being in front of a white board.

Students can get involved as well through different exercises geared for them.

"It's an extension of the teachers' computers in their classrooms," Norman said.

He added: "A teacher can use it (SMART board) just like they would use a mouse and keyboard at their computer."