Johnson County School District trustee John Manzella died Dec. 23.
Manzella was elected to the board from a crowded field of candidates in November 2018. His primary motivation for entering the race, he said at the time, was serving the students of Johnson County.
“John has done a lot of great stuff, not only for the district but for the community as a whole, so this is definitely a loss,” Superintendent Charles Auzqui said.
Manzella retired from the Buffalo Police Department in December 2017. For 10 of his years on the force, Manzella served as a school resource officer before funding for the program was cut by the school district. Manzella said he saw firsthand the importance of having a police officer in the school buildings and he wanted to bring the program back.
“The school resource officer is much more than a cop in the schools,” Manzella said. “When I was doing it, I was an authority figure for these kids — somebody who they could look up to and come to when they needed advice. I think this is an important program, and it’s my top priority to bring it back. From my understanding, the district has the funding. It is just going to take some effort from the school board to make it a reality again.”
The school board will begin accepting letters of application from people interested in completing Manzella’s term. Auzqui said he expects the board to vote on a replacement at the board’s February meeting.