As first reported at AllOnGeorgia-Camden, a joint partnership between the Camden County Sheriff’s Office, Camden County Board of Commissioners, and the Camden County Board of Education are planning to add more armed school resource officers within the public school system.
The plan is to continue the current school resource officer program provided jointly between the cities of Kingsland and St. Marys for the four school resource officers now in place at the high school, Ninth Grade Center, and both middle schools.
The current funding for the four resource officers is split between the cities and the Camden County School Board, where about 80 percent is funded by the school district. The funding for the current school resource officer (SRO) program is as follows:
- High School SRO cost – $59,767
- Ninth-Grade Center SRO – $31, 882
- Camden Middle SRO – $36, 548
- St. Marys Middle SRO – $34,901
Due to recent events in school shootings across the nation, and local public discussions concerning school safety from parents and students, Camden County Schools, along with three public safety agencies, has reached a tentative plan to expand the school resource officer program to the elementary schools. The tentative plan will provide for the assignment, in the first year, of three additional officers to provide support specifically to the nine elementary schools in the district.
According to a media release from the school district, the elementary schools will be covered by officers through a “zone” approach whereby one officer is assigned three elementary schools in close geographic proximity. The duties and responsibilities of the three officers would include a continual daily presence on all their assigned campuses both inside and outside of the buildings.
The additional three school resource officers provided by the Sheriff’s office would be funded jointly with each providing a proportional share of the cost. Current SRO contracts between the school system, Kingsland, and St Marys would remain intact and a third agreement will be created between the Camden County Sheriff’s Office and Camden County Schools.
The current SRO program, which includes the city police departments of Kingsland and St. Marys, is renewed before the start of each school year. The tentative plan is expected to be implemented by the local school district at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, according to a school district media release. This would give Camden County Schools a total of six resource officers.
In an April interview with Sheriff Jim Proctor, he stated that there is a discussion to continue and try to place officers at each elementary school in Camden County each year, but that is dependent on available funds in the future.
Earlier this week, the State School Superintendent announced that $16 million would be distributed to Georgia’s school districts where each district will receive $25,000 base amount. Each school district will then receive funding based on student population. Based on the budget report released by the Georgia General Assembly, Camden County Schools is to receive over $85,000 in school security measures from the FY2019 state budget.
AllOnGeorgia-Camden has filed an Open Records request to obtain the tentative agreement, which may give the total funding for the expanded SRO program, but the school district stated that “[t]he agreement is currently in development in a joint effort between all parties involved and will be made available to you when it is finalized and complete.” Unapproved documentation, even in draft form, is allowed for inspection under the Open Records law ( O.C.G.A. § 50-18-72).
Additionally, the U.S. Congress passed over $ 1 billion dollars with the passage of the STOP School Violence Act to be allocated among the 50 states. At this time, it is not known how much Georgia’s schools will receive from the federal government.
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