NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – Sabrina Sutton, like thousands of other parents in New Hanover County, will send her children back to school Tuesday morning.
She said the School Resource Officer at Carolina Beach Elementary helps to relieve those first day jitters.
"Knowing they have a police officer there makes me feel a little more comfortable," said Sutton.
The comfort of an SRO on duty will not be shared by every parent in the county at the start of the new school year.
Leaders across the county paid for additional officers to cover elementary schools after the tragedy at Sandy Hook. Only high schools and middle schools had full-time coverage before that.
Those additional deputies will not return for the first day of classes, according to school administrators. Months ago, the school board approved a plan for 11 deputies to rotate around all the elementary schools. That plan still needs money.
A statement from Assistant Superintendent Dr. Rick Holliday said the district would be ineligible for state grant money if the SROs are already in place.
"Therefore, we will not have the SROs for the elementary schools until we know about the status of the grant," he said.
Along with that statement, Superintendent Dr. Tim Markley shared a statement saying the district is committed to officers in every elementary school.
"As quickly as possible, we plan to have the SROs in place using either state or local funds or a combination of both," he said.
The current class of SROs already assigned to schools throughout the county completed training one week ago. Sheriff Ed McMahon said they're meant to be mentors to students, as well as their first line of defense.
It would cost slightly more than $1 million to pay for the first year of the additional deputies, and about $615,000 for every year after that.
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