Hamilton County School Board discusses SRO funding in budget workshop

Thursday night's Hamilton County School Board meeting PHOTO: WTVC NEWS

The need for Tennessee school resource officers is making statewide news.

A proposal, with the goal of improving school safety, is making it's way through the Tennessee Legislature.

On Wednesday, a $40M proposal to help pay for School Resource Officers advanced in the state house education committee.

Governor Bill Lee's proposal is being sent to the finance panel to be reviewed.

The bill says funding would be distributed as safety grants to help pay for school resource officers and other safety priorities.

Schools would provide matching funds to receive grants.

The Hamilton County School Board ratified its decision to add on seven SRO's last year.

They started at the beginning of this school year.

Hamilton County deputy Rodney Brown is an SRO at the Chattanooga School for Creative Arts.

School Board chairman Joe Wingate sees the value in having SRO's at schools. Wingate said, "You do everything that you can do, if you get a law enforcement officer in the building that obviously goes a long way. "

At the beginning of this school year, seven new SRO's started working at Hamilton County schools.

The board approved $458,000 for the officers.

That includes salaries and benefit packages.

Thursday night, in a budget workshop, the board discussed future costs. "How do we go from having a certain salary and yet the total package be what it is and the discussion was around there's some unique costs involved with some officers, officers having a vehicle while they're on duty, doesn't necessarily have to be a brand new vehicle, top of the line, but they are required to have a duty vehicle," Wingate noted.

But if a fight or worse breaks out at a school, Wingate believes the added officers are a step in the right direction. "This definitely doesn't have us up to speed, but we'll see where we are with projected revenue, what the administration brings forward, obviously we'd like to have as many as we can. I think at this point that gets every secondary school."

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