Pender parents weigh in on delayed SRO decision - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Pender parents weigh in on delayed SRO decision

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PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) -The board did not vote on the seven SROs to be placed in the elementary schools Tuesday night.

Officials say it would cost more than $120,000 for the rest of the 2012 budget and more than $360,000 for 2013.

Chairman of the Board, George Brown, says "we must protect our children, but that's too much money."

While some parents agree with that sentiment and tell WECT, they didn't have resource officers when they were in elementary school, other parents it's necessary.

:"None of the employees or anyone at the school has special training," said Crystal Wainright, whose children are in elementary school. "I think if you have one officer there that can at least get a heads up before something happens, it's helpful.'


"If you have the ability to do it, you should," said Wilber Brawley, who has nieces and nephews in elementary school. "It might cost us a little extra money but I think it's worth it in every way possible."

All of the money to support the school resource officers would come from a contingency fund, which $170,000 would go to the sheriff's office to ship inmates to other jails.

The contingency budget for 2013 would shrink to around $100,000 if the school resource officers are approved.

In Pender County elected leaders continue their effort to keep students safe in elementary schools.  County commissioners just started the school resource officer discussion, about a month after sheriff's deputies are assigned to every school in nearby New Hanover County.

Commissioner Jimmy Tate says while this issue only recently came to the board for public debate, immediately after the Connecticut shooting in December both the Board of Education and the Board of Commissioners started discussing the issue privately.

Right now there are SROs in every high school and middle school in Pender County, however, there is not a permanent officer assigned to every elementary school.  Tate says before leaders started looking at spending money on the elementary schools they wanted to explore all other options first.

He say it's necessary to add seven officers, putting one in every elementary school, and Pender Early College. Tate adds the county is so large, that it doesn't make sense to have officers split their time at different schools.

"School safety has to be a number one priority, even though we do have capitol improvements that are needed at our schools, throughout the county, the safety has to be number one," said Tate.

Seven officers would cost more than 300 thousand dollars.  A different option would add just two officers, and assign each one to cover three elementary schools.

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