The Johnson City School Board on Monday unanimously voted to ask the city to provide the necessary funding to assign a school resource officer to every school in the system.
After weeks of discussion surrounding school safety and security, Superintendent Richard Bales recommended the full board take the request to the City Commission.
“We don’t have the additional revenues to produce funds for those positions, but I do think it’s a need that I feel like I need to express to you,” Bales said.
The motion approved by the board also asks the city to secure any funding sources possible that would ensure there will be SROs in every school in the future.
In order to have an SRO in each school, the system would need an additional six officers this year. That number would increase to eight officers the following year, due to the HEROES Grant — which currently funds two SROs — running out.
Science Hill High School, Liberty Bell Middle School, Indian Trail Intermediate School and the alternative learning center each have one full-time SRO.
The HEROES Grant funds two officers who patrol the eight elementary schools.
It would cost $133,684 to keep the two grant-funded SROs working in the elementary schools. That total does not include the costs associated with equipment.
The total cost to fund eight additional SROs is $640,144, training and equipment expenses included.
Chairwoman Kathy Hall said the board wants to make sure SROs continue to be part of school safety, especially with the HEROES Grant ending.
“I think it’s very important, and for us, SROs are vital to our schools, but there’s also a lot more that we do for school security and we’re very proud of the program we have in place for this year. Unfortunately, our funding for that program is rolling off,” she said.
If the city cannot find the funding to cover the additional SROs requested by the school board, Hall said they will have to keep looking for other grants to assist with funding their need.
“Unfortunately, it comes at a very tough budget year, so we’re looking at big cuts for academics anyway, so we’ll be looking at any source we can find,” she said.
In other business, the board received an update on the system’s various building projects from Instruction and Facilities Supervisor Dave Chupa.
An onslaught of winter weather has delayed roofing projects at both South Side and Woodland elementaries.
Despite the recent weather, Chupa said the expansion project at Indian Trail is on track, with some walls already being constructed.