While officials have not revealed many specifics of their plan to improve school safety measures in the county, a recent budget amendment reveals an increase of $36,000 in the student resource officer budget.
The Stokes County Board of Education and Stokes County Board of Commissioners agreed to fund a program to enhance security in schools following a closed session on Jan. 14. Few specifics were revealed due to the “sensitive nature” of the topic and to “protect the methods and practices that are being implemented.” But the groups released a press release stating that they would “immediately fund a program to enhance security in the schools, which will include additional school resources officers assigned to the Stokes County School System until the end of the current school year.”
One of the budget amendments approved by the county commissioners at a meeting on Monday, Jan. 28 includes an increase of $36,000 in the part-time salaries and wages line for the Stokes County Sheriff’s Office due to an appropriation of $36,000 from the school system for additional SRO’s.
School Board Chair Mike Rogers explained Tuesday that the school system would be providing that initial $36,000 out of its general fund, with the county taking over any additional costs deemed necessary at the sheriff’s discretion. Rogers said officials still cannot disclose the specifics of the plan due to an effort to protect students.
As Rogers explained it, the SRO’s are employed by the sheriff’s office and paid for with funds transferred to the county from the school system each year. The school system typically uses federal dollars, which have already been allocated for the current year. The county will maintain the balance if more funds are needed for the remainder of this school year, said Rogers.
After the Jan. 14 meeting, Rogers told the media that the mutual agreement approved that night would allow officials to start the process of improving school safety. He said the school system will be relying on the discretion of the Stokes County Sheriff’s Office to “make sure kids are as safe as can be.” The program will be evaluated at the end of the semester to see if any changes need to be made for the following school year.
According to Rogers, the county requested to meet with the school board on Jan. 14. Rogers praised the “spirit of cooperation” between the boards.
Rogers originally went before the county commissioners at a meeting Wednesday, Dec. 26 to request funding for additional student resource officers in schools. No action was taken at that time. The school board had voted the previous week to request up to $350,000 from the county for additional SRO’s to be placed in all schools through the end of May in response to the recent school shooting in Connecticut that killed 20 children and six adults.