School Safety Officers Working Out Well In County Schools, Officials Say

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

County School officials said there are now 10 School Safety Officers (SSOs) in the county schools and that is working out well.

Justin Robertson, chief operating officer, said they are filling in at schools that have not been assigned School Resource Officers (SROs).

The SSOs are considered "armed security guards."

Mr. Robertson said a difference is that retired officers who still want to work can be hired as SSOs, and they do not have to pass a physical exam as SROs do. 

He said the schools could have hired more SSOs if it had the funding with posts not available for several good candidates. He said, "These are really top-notch individuals."

There are 32 officers in the county schools counting both SROs and SSOs. Mr. Robertson said four of the SROs are sometimes away from their schools while transporting Silverdale prisoners to various locations.

Supt. Bryan Johnson said "the gold standard" is to have an officer in each of the county schools.

The School Safety Officer idea was lifted from the Knoxville Schools, which also use both SROs and SSOs.

Cost of a SSO was listed at $55,000-$60,000 per year counting benefits.

County School officials made their annual budget presentation to the County Commission on Tuesday morning, outlining details of a $434.3 million balanced budget.

It includes an employee step increase costing $3.7 million and a one percent pay increase costing $2.9 million.

Officials said with more charter schools coming online and with some existing ones expanding the amount allotted for charter schools is up $2.56 million.

School transportation costs are up $722,757.

Officials said there were $34 million in cuts from spending that the various departments had sought.

On capital plans, Mr. Robertson said updates at Tyner are the next major need. "There is a consensus that it needs to be addressed rather quickly," he said.

 


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