Anderson: We all have to play in the same sandbox to fund SROs
By Kerri Bartlett, Assistant Editor
Nobody can say who is going to fund 32 school resource officers for the elementary schools in Williamson County for the 2013-14 academic year, an amount expected to be around $2.1 million.
The county commission, Williamson County Schools Board of Education and the Franklin Special School District agreed in principle to hire the armed guards in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., shooting that killed 26 people, including kindergartners and first-graders. The County Commission is footing the bill for the initial $2.6 million to hire and equip the new SROs, and fund their salaries through June. However, after that, the intra-county agreement is ambiguous, saying little more than the County Commission, WCS School Board and the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office will negotiate the matter “each year.”
The Franklin Special School District and Williamson County Schools District are already seeing the highly anticipated officers placed in their schools after the WCSO administered a laborious and expedient interview process.
“We just started the budget process and are reviewing requests and needs,” said Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson. “We have costs taken care of through the end of the fiscal year, June 30, but after July 1, we will have to see how everything plays out. We will have to see if money comes from the legislature through state or federal funds or even grants. There are different pots of money that we would still like to take a look at to consider after July 1.”
WCS Superintendent Dr. Mike Looney said, “I am confident that we can reach an agreement, and I am confident in the county commission.”
Anderson said the outcome of the negotiations will develop as new information comes available regarding potential state and federal funding sources.
“We don’t have all of the grant information to make decisions,” said Anderson. “There could be several different channels. We all have to be creative. We all see the wisdom of hiring SROs and are committed. The question is just how to fund them. We all have to play in the same sandbox.”
Posted on: 3/21/2013