NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Officials in New Hanover County put school resource officers in every elementary school after the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, but just days before the new school year starts, there are different answers about the amount of officers.
The New Hanover County School System is waiting on results from a state grant application, according to School Board Chairman Don Hayes. He said regardless of the state money, the school system will have additional officers in place when students return to classes.
Sheriff Ed McMahon said he has been told that there is zero money in the budget for extra SROs as of Wednesday. If and when a decision is made, McMahon said it won't be an immediate change because he has to shift officers into the positions.
"I want to say I'll take a deputy, an SRO for every school, but in reality I understand that that's not possible in our economy so we are going to do the best job we can with the funds that have been allotted to the positions," said Sheriff Ed McMahon.
The sheriff spoke to dozens of SROs that are budgeted for and currently going through a weeklong training program. McMahon said families in New Hanover County should take pride in the man and women who walk the halls in the county school system.
Leaders in New Hanover County covered the cost of adding officers to every elementary school in the county after the tragedy at Sandy Hook. It was a one-time, temporary fix. The long-term plan is a work in progress.
Since then, leaders attended a summit on school security in downtown Wilmington.
The Board of Education approved a contract of more than $150,000 to a private consulting firm for a security audit of the entire school system. Board members also approved a plan for nearly a dozen deputies to cover all of the elementary schools, but the cost of those officers is not listed in any budget.
County leaders said they would not financially commit to SROs until reviewing the results of the security audit. A month after the results were released in July, the sheriff said he hasn't been given the green light on additional officers.
Chairman Hayes directed our questions to the superintendent Wednesday. Calls to the NHCS spokesperson have not been returned at the time of this report.
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