Vote delayed on more school resource officers
Washington County, Tennessee is one of many school systems lately that's hoping to add more deputies to their hallways, increasing safety.
But the wait is going to be longer; Thursday night county leaders pushed back voting on funding additional school resource officers.
Deputy Debra Barkley walks the halls at Sulphur Springs Elementary, along with two other schools in Washington County, Tennessee. Her presence gives parents, like Keith Ellis, peace of mind. "There should have to be a school resource officers in the schools [due to] security issues," added Ellis.
But the plan to put 10 more officers in county schools has been delayed. County commissioner Pat Wolfe says that's because the budget committee hopes to find more money to fully fund new officers.
"Will the state appropriate some dollars before they adjourn, that would help us go toward financing the SRO's. But I think it's a question of when, not if," added Wolfe.
Wolfe says it will roughly cost $1 million for the initial start-up and there are a lot of questions on how to budget officers, since state law says some of that money has to be shared with Johnson City. "That is recurring, it's not a one time expense. It's going to be budgeted annually because they're going to be permanent employees," said Wolfe.
There are already six school resource officers, one at each of the high schools and four that rotate between the elementary and middle schools. Director of Schools, Ron Dykes, says this decision is time sensitive. "The less strengthened we are security-wise. We would be less vulnerable with more school resource officers," he said.
Commissioner Wolfe says the delay in funding could be as long as August, before the budget goes before the county commission to be passed.
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