School resource officers will return to Columbia Public Schools, the Columbia Board of Education decided Thursday in a 5-1 vote.
School board member Jeanne Snodgrass voted "no." Board member Katherine Sasser was absent.
The city police officers have not been in schools since June 2020, when the city ended the program amid budget constraints.
The approval came after several delays in considering the contract.
Before that, the school resource officers had been in schools for 22 years, CPS security chief John White said after the vote.
"It is an amazing program," White said. "The difference it makes on some kids' lives is truly amazing."
The school board approved a contract through June 30, 2023, to provide four SROs in the schools. One each will be at Hickman and Rock Bridge high schools, with two at Battle High School.
The cost to the school district is $295,164, which is 75% of the cost of the salary of the officers.
Snodgrass offered several amendments to the contract. Those that survived to the final vote included placing relationship-building at the top of the list of program goals and objectives. Another was to include a statement of non-discrimination. Also included in the final approval was a requirement that SROs successfully complete diversity and equity training offered by the district.
Several others failed, including an amendment that would have prohibited SROs from questioning or arresting students at school for offenses that happen outside of school.
In 2020, a Smithton Middle School student sued the city and the school district for wrongful arrest after a fight at the school.
Board member Chris Horn said many of Snodgrass' concerns already were addressed in school board policies.
"My concern is if this is going to be implemented, it's done in a way that best protects our students," Snodgrass said.
Columbia police officers undergo conflict resolution and equity training, Columbia police Chief Geoff Jones said at the meeting, addressing some of the points made by Snodgrass.
"I want SROs to be a collaborative member of your team" and participate in training offered to building employees, Jones said.
Jones said he wants the relationship with the school district to be collaborative.
"The officer is meant to be a resource to the students and staff of CPS," he said.
During public comment before the vote, Race Matters, Friends President Traci Wilson-Kleekamp said she was opposed to the measure and thanked Snodgrass for adding to the discussion.
The contract is a technical document meant to protect police, she said.
"Your disproportionate outcomes still remain," Wilson-Kleekamp said. "They weren't addressed in the conversation."
There are better uses of the money, she said.
"I would have spent the money on counselors and social workers," she said.
When the SROs can be in schools is unclear, White said outside the meeting. The Columbia City Council must also approve the contract first.
"I'm excited and hopeful to get them back in our buildings," White said.
This article originally appeared on Columbia Daily Tribune: School resource officers to return to CPS, but timing is in question