In wake of last week’s shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut, the Stokes County Board of Education is asking the county for emergency funds in order to place student resource officers in every school.
At a board meeting Thursday morning, the school board voted unanimously to request emergency funding from the county commissioners to place SRO’s in the remaining schools from January through the end of the school year at an estimated cost of $350,000. School officials spoke about the immediate need to improve security measures at the schools.
Sheriff Mike Marshall said school officials requested he present an assessment and recommendations at the meeting for how to improve school security conditions. Marshall presented the board with three options to enhance the current level of security, and the school board picked the most comprehensive option so every school would have a sworn officer patrolling its halls.
According to the sheriff’s handout to the board, this year the sheriff’s office was provided funding for three SRO’s to cover the high schools and one SRO that is shared by the three middle schools. With 20 recognized schools in Stokes County, the school board’s request to the county is funding for 16 additional officers so all schools would be covered by an officer through the end of the school year.
The sheriff’s original estimate for 16 additional officers totaled $704,000 but was based on 12 months of service and the upfitting of the additional officers with the necessary equipment and vehicles. The school board decided to request officers for the remainder of the school year so it can take time to evaluate next year’s budget and other ways the schools can enhance safety, such as adding additional door security measures, providing additional training for teachers, etc. Based on half of the school year being past, the school board is asking for funds equal to roughly half of the original cost estimate.
The Stokes County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to hold its next meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 26 at 6 p.m. in the administrative office building in Danbury. A request is expected to be made then.