The DeKalb County Board of Education is apparently looking to fund at least one School Resource Officer position, if the county commission is willing to fund three more SRO's. That would put an SRO in each of the five schools.
Although not specifically addressed yet in the proposed budget for the 2013-14 year, Director of Schools Mark Willoughby said Monday night during the special board of education meeting that he has discussed the issue with school board members and that some money could be found for at least one SRO. "We talked in the workshop about using some state school money and seeing if we could come up with some money to at least help out with one SRO officer," said Willoughby.
During a meeting last Thursday night, members of the county budget committee discussed funding from two to four SRO's in the new county general budget. To fund all four, the county would need to come up with $236,969.
As WJLE first reported last Friday, a majority of the budget committee members, Wayne Cantrell, Jerry Scott, and Larry Summers suggested cutting that back to two new SRO officers, which would slice the cost in half to $118,485.
Committee members Jack Barton and Marshall Ferrell preferred leaving four new SRO officers in the proposed county general budget.
Willoughby said Monday night that $15,000 may be available through a Safe Schools grant to help fund an SRO. The school system, he said, could probably come up with another $15,000. The cost to fund an SRO for the first year would be around $30,000.
"I can see where using some of the state funds that we have, we can hopefully come up with one more SRO officer and hopefully the county would come up with ( funding for the others). Rather than having three (funded by the county) and us coming up with one, making four, if we come up with one and they would (fund the rest) then we could have one SRO at each school. I would hate for us to have an SRO at some of our schools and not an SRO at the other schools," said Willoughby.
"I think it's very important that we come together as a community and make sure that we provide those (SROs) to our students," said Board member Billy Miller. "That's the most valuable commodity we have and I think it's our responsibility as leaders of the community, as adults and as parents of our children to make sure they (children) can go to school safely everyday and that they don't have to worry about that. I think it's very important for the safety and well being of our students," said Miller.
DeKalb County currently has one School Resource Officer assigned to the high school.