Sullivan County

Governor talks about school resource officers, safety

A new bill has been proposed to put a school resource officer in every public school in Tennessee.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam was at Northeast State Community College Friday morning talking about education. He also talked about the hot topic of school safety and school resource officers. "One of the issues we have is half of the school systems have them now and are paying for them locally, the other half aren't," Haslam said.

There is about $34 million in Haslam's budget this year for the school to use as they feel appropriate. He said the hardest decision for the state is determining who gets how much money. "We need to find a fair way to address it since some schools already have made that investment," he said.

The Washington County School District currently has six resource officers to cover 13 schools and they are hoping to add about 10 more. Superintendent Ron Dykes said increasing security would cost about $940,000 the first year and state funding would be helpful. "It sounds like you're being penalized if you've been proactive," he said. "I'd hate to see any system lose dollars because they spent local dollars to make the schools safer."

To level the financial playing field, Representative Matthew Hill of Jonesborough proposed the Safe School Act in Nashville on Thursday. It would allow local governments to put a school resource officer in every public school and the cost would be split between the state and local government. "Right now, the counties and cities that have school resource officers pay 100% of the bill. That means you can't put more officers in because there's only so much money. I'm hopeful we'll be able to use that $30 million in the Governor's budget to put school resource officers in the highest needed areas," Hill said.

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