UNION COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – The S.C. Department of Education is pouring millions of dollars into school security.
The state awarded $11,864,005 towards hiring 205 school resource officers.
“There is no issue more important than the safety and well-being of our students and teachers,” State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said. “School resource officers are a deterrent to violence within the school building and their training and response to crime is an invaluable asset that allows educators to focus on instruction. The funding of these 205 officers puts us within reach of meeting our goal for having an SRO in every school.”
More than 50 new SROs will be added at schools across the Upstate, including four in Union County.
Union County Sheriff David Taylor tells 7News that a school resource officer diffused what could have been a violent situation just this week.
“He has his county radio with him,” Taylor said. “He called for assistance. We had officers there within 5 minutes.”
The sheriff says currently all but two schools in Union County have SROs, but soon every school will have one.
On Thursday, the state Department of Education announced additional funding to a number of school districts. State Superintendent Molly Spearman says the SROs will be stationed in schools across the state that currently lack coverage.
In the Upstate, a total of 51 new positions will be placed at schools.
“I support it,” said Terry Snow. “For the safety of our kids.”
“They need to get them in there,” Gerald Vaugh told 7News.
Union County will receive $240,000 dollars to pay salary and benefits for four SROs. According to the state that doesn’t cover training or equipment, but the state will supplement the cost if they have the cash.
“They have to go through 12 weeks of training, through the Criminal Justice Academy,” Taylor said. “Then they will go through SRO school, which is a 2 week school.”
Taylor said he’s glad the state is investing in school security, but there’s a far bigger hurdle in order to see it through.
“Well the only thing that concerns me is being able to hire 3 individuals,” Taylor told 7News. “I have one slot open now and I have to SRO slots to fill. Nobody is wanting to get into this work anymore. Plus the money. We are not paying our people what they need to be paid.”
The state says the positions must be filled by January.
The state also awarded more than $2.2 million to fund hiring more mental health counselors.