Archive for Thursday, January 26, 2006

Council, district united on traffic

January 26, 2006

Eudora USD 491 officials met Monday with the Eudora City Council in response to concerns about the safety of children crossing Church Street after school.

The traffic control situation has put a strain on his department's staff, said Eudora Police Chief Greg Dahlem, who recommended the meeting.

Dahlem said he had advocated an earlier plan to look into traffic lights to help alleviate the strain. But because of the possibility of a Kansas Turnpike interchange funneling more traffic into Eudora, that solution could be moot, Dahlem said.

"The other thing that was discussed was putting police officers out there," Dahlem said. "We've had in the past a couple of the officers that did go out and direct some traffic off and on to help relieve that area."

One option would be to place Security Resource Officer Tad Teehee in a position to help guide traffic.

With the possibility of placing Teehee in that position, the district briefed the council on the job and importance of Teehee to the district.

"I think maybe we'll all have a better understanding as a staff as to what Tad does at the school and hopefully the four of us or the 10 of us can sit together and find a solution about what to do on Church Street," Dahlem said.

Eudora High School principal Dale Sample informed the council of the duties inherent of the SRO position. For nine months out of the year, Teehee protects and helps the city's children, Sample said.

"Because of that fact alone, policing our schools makes perfect sense and good use of police efforts," Sample said.

The presence of the SRO has improved Sample's relationship with the police, Sample said.

"He stops problems before they ever start, and that's been appreciated."

Sample said there has been a decrease in suspensions and detentions since hiring the SRO.

Teehee meets with the police department once a week to keep its officers informed of happenings in the school district. He also meets with school district officials to let them know about local law enforcement happenings.

Teehee visits classrooms and speaks to students. He also runs the DARE program.

Teehee is also in charge of security, including 14 cameras at Eudora High School.

"Before we had an SRO, our students pretty much stayed clear of the police. It was pretty much a negative thought when they had to talk to or get involved with the police department," Sample said. "Tad has changed all that."

Teehee addressed the council next and fielded questions.

Eudora Mayor Tom Pyle said he thought football and basketball games seem safer than they did a decade ago.

"Just the presence of a police officer in a Eudora uniform has made a difference," Pyle said.

People respect them, Pyle said.

"When a Spring Hill cop tells you, you don't want to move back behind that line. When a Eudora cop tells you, you move back," Pyle said.

Superintendent Marty Kobza said adding a west outlet near the high school and middle school campus would make Church Street safer.

"As we look at our potential growth in that area, we look at an elementary school on that same campus," Kobza said. "That's an issue we have to address in the next four or five years."

The school district pays 75 percent of Teehee's salary through federal funds and the city picks up 25 percent for the three summer months, Kobza said.

The district is waiting to hear from the government before it can renew or change a grant that pays for Teehee's salary.

The district would like to add a second SRO for the middle school if funding were available.

"That's where we're at with Tad and it's been great," Kobza said. "On a daily basis, he's made our schools safer."

The council took no action on the Church Street issue.

"I just want to let you guys know that it's being looked at, and it's not being overlooked," Dahlem said.

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