The Board of Education has taken up the budget committee on its offer to partner with the county in making sure School Resource Officers are in every DeKalb County School.
During Thursday night's meeting, the Board voted 4-0 to include in its proposed budget for 2013-14, a total of $73,839 to fund salaries and benefits of two new SROs. Board members Johnny Lattimore, Charles Robinson, Billy Miller, and Doug Stephens all voted for it. Board members Kenny Rhody, John David Foutch and W.J. (Dub) Evins, III were unable to attend the meeting.
Members of the county commission's budget committee voted 4 to 1 Tuesday night to include funding for two new SROs in the proposed county general budget, but only if the school board would vote to fund two (salaries and benefits) in its budget.
Director of Schools Mark Willoughby had expressed to the budget committee Tuesday night that he didn't think the school board would go along with funding SROs given the fact that schools were being asked to cut another $147,000 from the proposed school budget to meet last year's funding levels. But during Thursday night's school board meeting, Willoughby said partnering with the county appears to be the only way schools were going to get more SROs. "The county commission (budget committee) stated that if we would fund two then they would fund two. Basically it was my interpretation that if we didn't fund two then there would not be two (any new SROs) funded," said Willoughby. We feel that it is very important to help provide safety for all people involved in our school system. Its either us fund two or not have any Resource Officers except for the one the Sheriff already provides out of his current budget," said Willoughby.
During Tuesday night's county budget meeting, committee member Larry Summers made a motion that the county general fund two new SRO's (salaries and benefits) if the school board does the same with the county general to pick up all the expense of training and equipping the new officers with patrol cars, guns, etc. The vote was 4-1. Committee members Wayne Cantrell, Marshall Ferrell, and Jerry Scott joined Summers in voting for the motion. Jack Barton voted against it, since he wanted the county general budget to fund all four new SROs.
County Mayor Mike Foster then polled the twelve county commissioners present at the budget committee meeting to see how they felt about funding two SROs if the school board were to fund two SROs. All but three commissioners said they favored it. However when polled about the county general funding all four SROs, a majority of the commissioners said no.
The county budget committee will meet tonight (Friday) at 6:00 p.m. at the courthouse to act on the school board's proposed budget.