Special Report: School Security

Local funds pay for SROs in middle, high schools

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

It's not unusual to see a police officer patrolling a school hallway.

Schools and police departments have long worked together for safe schools, and School Resource Officers provide a police presence in many schools throughout the day.

Not all central Ohio school districts have School Resource Officers and those that do normally have them at the middle and high school level.

"The School Resource Officer really comes from federal grants offered about 15 years ago all over the nation," Dublin City School District Superintendent David Axner said. "Many districts funded them through the government. ... Since then the money has dried up and gone away."

With no federal grants to fund SROs, some districts have gotten rid of the police presence in their schools, but Dublin didn't.

"The district had to decide on their own to have SROs in the building. Dublin made the right decision in continuing that partnership," Axner said.

Dublin splits the cost of the officers with the school district.

"The city is as invested in safety as the school district is. Prior to (the Sandy Hook) incident or any other there's never been any wavering by city officials and the board (of education) on not funding resource officers," Axner said.

Gahanna-Jefferson Schools have campus security employees as well as two uniformed police officers. The cost of the police officers is split with the city.

"We have a great partnership with the city and Chief Denis Murphy as evidenced in their willingness to provide additional resources such as community neighborhood liaison officers to work with our younger students, be a presence at school arrival/dismissal times and to provide unannounced K-9 sweeps to promote a drug-free environment," Gahanna district spokesman Michael Straughter said.

Hilliard City Schools pays the city $232,733 for three school resource officers to be in schools 178 school days each year. The cost includes wages, pension, health insurance, mileage, training, uniform maintenance and workers' compensation.

Westerville has had resource officers for about 12 years. This year it will cost about $600,000, with the school district evenly splitting the cost of the officers with the Westerville and Genoa Township police departments. There are seven officers involved in the program: An officer is stationed at each of the three high schools and four middle schools. Five are Westerville police officers and two are Genoa Township officers.

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