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Columbus high schools reopen without police officers for first time in 25 years

Alissa Widman Neese, The Columbus Dispatch |

For the first time in 25 years, city police officers won’t be walking the halls with students. And while that could change someday, it won’t happen this academic year. Columbus City Schools’ longstanding school-resource officer program is in limbo, after officials allowed a contract between the district and the Columbus Division of Police to expire on June 30.

Nine months later, a new contract hasn’t been renegotiated. Officials from both sides have expressed interest in setting up a meeting to start the process — while also acknowledging that hashing out a new agreement won’t happen overnight.

Last school year, an armed Columbus police officer was stationed at each of the district’s 19 high schools, some of which are combined with middle schools. The arrangement cost the district $1.23 million for 2019-20. The district spent nearly $6 million to employ 84 of its own unarmed security officers in many buildings, an increase from 53 the previous year. That was in addition to the school-resource officers.

With students back in buildings this academic year, albeit at a reduced capacity, those security officers are monitoring buildings for now, district spokeswoman Jacqueline Bryant said. “The office has a good relationship with CPD and can call upon them if needed,” Bryant said in an email.

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