The Leavenworth school district is eliminating the school resource officer position at Richard Warren Middle School.

The Leavenworth school district is eliminating the school resource officer position at Richard Warren Middle School.

Wednesday was Heather Vogel’s last day as the school resource officer at the middle school.

Vogel has been promoted to the position of detective with the Leavenworth Police Department. And Leavenworth Superintendent Mike Roth said school officials are using this as an opportunity to add a second counselor at Warren by cutting the school resource officer position.

The school district had been paying for half of the school resource officer’s salary, with the Police Department paying for the other half.

Leavenworth Police Chief Pat Kitchens said the Police Department would have selected another officer for the SRO duties if school officials had wanted to continue the position.

“We felt that it was important to try to get another counselor,” Roth said.

He said the middle school has an enrollment of more than 700 students.

“We probably needed this to be addressed earlier,” he said.

Roth said the administration at the middle school had been asking for an additional counselor earlier in the year. But at that time, the district did not have the funds.

Roth said school officials hope that reallocating money for the second counselor at the middle school will make it possible to identify potential behavioral issues earlier. He said the additional counselor also will make it possible for students to receive classroom lessons about things such as character and behavior.

The superintendent said he hopes the change will help prevent students from making destructive decisions instead of school personnel dealing with the aftermath of such decisions.

While the middle school will no longer have a police officer present on a full-time basis, Roth said school officials still feel good about security in terms of cameras and the ability to lock down the building.

“We’re a 911 call away from having somebody pretty quickly,” he said.

Roth said the district will not be taking away supervision. He said school officials are trying to realign supervision.

Roth said he would like to reestablish the school resource officer or add a security officer at the middle school if additional funding is available once state lawmakers approve a new school finance formula.

Lawmakers will be working on a new finance formula during their 2017 legislation session.

Roth said there are no plans to eliminate a school resource officer position at Leavenworth High School.

The elimination of the Warren school resource officer was discussed during Tuesday’s Leavenworth City Commission.

Commissioner Mark Preisinger raised the issue as Roth was providing a quarterly report about the Leavenworth public schools.

Preisinger questioned why the change was being made in the middle of the school year instead of when an annual budget was being prepared.

Roth explained that the opportunity arose with Vogel’s promotion.

The superintendent said he hopes the new counselor will be hired by the start of the second semester on Jan. 4.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR