The Sampson County Board of Education and superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy are to be applauded for looking to increase the number of School Resource Officers it provides across the system. It is a far better plan, we believe, than arming classroom teachers, and the fact that they have discussed this among themselves and with county commissioners is a step toward making a good plan reality.
The county school board expressed its desire to see SROs in all 19 of its schools earlier this week and Bracy, during a budget work session with county commissioners on Wednesday, reiterated the desire to find funding streams that will allow the system to move forward with such a plan.
It’s a proactive approach that school systems must find ways to afford in an effort to beef up security at their schools.
Continued violence at schools across our country has intensified the desire of educators to accelerate safety measures beyond what, in many cases, they can afford, knowing that safety is key to helping ensure students are protected from gun-wielding individuals intent on doing them harm.
The fatal Parkland, Fla. school shooting on Feb. 14, which killed 17 people, most of them students, has every school district across the country reviewing its safety measures and searching for ways to improve it. Sampson County Schools is no different. In fact, the system just went through a security assessment with the Sheriff’s Department.
It was the latest shooting and that assessment that led the board to discuss increasing its SRO presence.
Currently school resource officers are stationed at the four county high schools. Funding sources for the four come from the school system and the county, since those four officers work on the campuses during the school year then serve as deputies with the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office during the summer months. All four are sworn deputies.
Bracy told commissioners earlier this week that he and his board would like to have SROs at all 19 campuses. He stopped short of making that a formal part of any school budget request, but given the school board’s acknowledgement this week of the need, it likely will be.
It’s a move that will be expensive, but it is one the school board and county commissioners need to consider during the budgeting process, in whole or in part. In fact, it is one the city schools should consider as well.
While there are many needs within the county’s two school systems, none are greater than security. We’ve seen far too many tragedies not to believe that beefed up security at schools has become a necessary evil we had hoped would never exist.
But we must all take our blinders off, realizing the realities we live with today. While our prayer is that there will be no more school shootings, we must all plan as if there could be, being as ready as possible to fight off the unthinkable.
Having SROs on every school campus in Sampson and Clinton City is a solid safety measure and one that should be weighed heavily as we move closer to budget time.