Herrin school district hires more staff for new year - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Herrin school district hires more staff for new year

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HERRIN, Ill. -- A new school year brings a few changes to the Herrin school district.

After recent changes to the state funding formula, officials with Herrin CUSD #4 have more money in their budget.

Wednesday was the first day of classes.

"We're excited about the start of this school year," superintendent Terry Ryker said. "We were... able to employ several new positions to deal with safety and curricular upgrades and classroom reduction size and helping students that are in need."

Ryker said he was able to hire several people for various positions, including three new teachers in the elementary school and two new social workers to help students deal with problems at school and at home.

"And I think when you do that and are proactive, you have less chance of violence occurring in your schools," Ryker said.

Also in the name of safety, the district partnered with the Energy Police Department to bring in more school resource officers so they have one working at each of the four schools in the district.

"All of our schools are going to be covered throughout the day," Ryker said.

Ryker said they used to have two resource officers in the district, but had to cut one last year due to funding issues.

"A lot of things had to go away as a result of the lack of funding, now finally we're getting back to where we need to be," Herrin High School principal Jeff Johnson said.

Johnson said he's glad to have a resource officer back in the school.

The district as a whole has seven part-time officers now, mostly retired Illinois State Police troopers and local police officers.

Phil Sylvester is one of those officers.

"We want to allow (students) to come into an environment where they feel safe and not have to worry about a threat," Sylvester said.

Sylvester hopes he never has to deal with a threat and that he'll be more of a guide for kids.

"They'll see us as somebody that they can talk to, that they can come to, and that we're there for them," Sylvester said.

And he said the resource officers should help students see the human side of police that they may not see otherwise.

Editors note: This story has been updated to reflect that the school resource officers are employed through the Energy Police Department. The department has a two-year contract with the district to employ the officers.

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