Spotsylvania County is one step closer to stationing school resource officers in all 17 of its public schools.
There were no plans in the county’s fiscal 2019 budget to pay for new SROs, but after the shooting massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on Feb. 14, school safety became a hot-button issue that spilled into the county’s budget process.
The Board of Supervisors included funding in the budget for additional SROs, but not enough to staff all county schools. The aim was to have the officers stationed in the elementary schools since the county’s middle and high schools already have them.
The county applied for grants to hire four SROs, but recently learned that other localities got the grants.
But an increase of about $870,000 in state funding for county schools looks like it will help pay for the four additional SROs.
The School Board and Board of Supervisors talked about using the additional state funds for SROs during a work session Tuesday. School Board member Erin Grampp said during the session that security “is a priority on our side.”
The School Board in July voted to use $210,000 from that chunk of state funds to hire seven new school security officers. During Tuesday’s work session, members on both boards determined that money would be better spent instead on four school resource officers.
SROs go through more intense training and are employees of local sheriff’s offices or police departments. They also are armed and can make arrests. SSOs are more like security guards. While they can be armed, most aren’t.
The School Board plans to adjust the SSO funding to pay for SROs. The Board of Supervisors then will need to approve the expenditure.
Sheriff Roger Harris said at the meeting that his office will pay for the SRO training and vehicles.
“I want SROs in every school,” the sheriff said, adding that he’s been trying to get the additional SROs for the past six years.
Sheriff’s Office Capt. C.A. Carey told The Free Lance-Star that if the funding is approved, the new SROS would be trained and put in the schools this school year.