With a new school year underway, the Sampson County Schools recently approved another budget amendment for operations, with a primary change regarding safety.
In state funding, a $100,000 grant to provide School Resource Officers (SROs) at middle and elementary schools is on the list. The General Assembly and State Superintendent Mark Johnson implemented the new School Safety Grants Program. Funds will be used for training or employment of officers.
It requires local match on a basis of $2 in state grant funds for every $1 in non-state funds. Finance Officer Stephen Britt reported that the total value for Sampson County schools is $50,000. Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy reported that Sampson County officials tabled the matter during a previous meeting and will discuss funding in October.
“They feel good about what they heard,” Bracy said.
During the discussion, the startup costs for SRO equipment and three more vehicles could cost about $180,000. This assistance from county funding would allow the local school system to take full advantage of the grant.
“We’ll provide funds to support the salaries, but these funds cannot be used to purchase cars,” Britt said.
In North Carolina, SROs are assigned to provide coverage to a school or a set of buildings. The three main roles are to perform law enforcement duties, law-related counseling services and education regarding the law. Currently, there’s four deputies from the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office are providing those services in the district. Through the new grant, there’s a possibility that two or three could be added when the plan is fully implemented.
In early 2018, Bracy and other school officials began talks about looking for ways to increase the numbers of SROs in buildings. Board members showed concerns following the Parkland, Fla. school shooting, which took the lives of 17 people, mostly students.
The SRO grant was one portion of money coming from the state fund totaling $56.14 million. Britt and board members were also glad to see an increase in technology support at more than $237,000 with funds coming from fines and forfeiture collections.
“It’s definitely going to a worthy cause,” Britt said.
Additional funding on the $82.12 million budget amendment includes local dollars ($11.66 million); federal funds ($6.28 million); capital outlay ($2.04 million); and child nutrition ($5.98 million).
In a previous work session, it was noted that some of the funding would be used for other improvements around the district. Some of the major request include a track project at Hobbton High School, roof replacements, playgrounds and a field house project at Midway High School.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.