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The city and Lincoln Public Schools will each contribute $1.09 million to the interlocal agreement created to improve school safety, a 4% increase from their first-year contributions.

The money will be used for three different programs: $472,963 (30%) to help pay for six school resource officers and a threat assessment officer that work in the six middle schools; $416,000 (26%) for mental health therapists and a social worker to address students’ mental health issues and $685,580 (43%) to support the Community Learning Centers.

The city and school district entered into the agreement last spring after scuttling plans to create a joint public agency because of opposition to creating another taxing entity.

Discussions about the JPA and then the interlocal began when a group of parents began advocating for more school resource officers in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people on Feb. 14, 2018.

The proposal to add SROs sparked controversy when opponents argued adding officers could exacerbate the “school to prison” pipeline, especially for students of color and other marginalized students.

In the end, both the City Council and the Lincoln Board of Education created the agreement, which included agreeing to establish an evaluation process for the SRO program.

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On Thursday the joint board that oversees the interlocal approved an extensive, annual evaluation process of the SRO program, along with the budget for 2019-20.

The agreement says the budget can increase up to 5 percent each year. 

The money for the Community Learning Centers, which offer before- and after-school programming tied to school and neighborhood needs, used some of the money to enhance programming at each of the sites.

Each site wrote proposals for new clubs or programs. Director Nola Derby-Bennett recently offered a few examples of the new programs:

Several 3-D printer clubs and a “drums alive” club at McPhee Elementary that combines music and physical fitness and several new art clubs; and summer swimming lessons at Elliott and Pershing.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7226 or mreist@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSreist.

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Education reporter

Margaret Reist is a Lincoln native, the mom of three high school graduates now navigating college and an education junkie who covers students, teachers and policymakers inside and outside the K-12 classroom.

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