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Who should pay for SRO programs in schools?

State Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough) told Washington County commissioners last week that the state needs to share the cost of placing a school resource officer in every school.
“If we’re not careful, legislation will be passed that will require an SRO in every school,” Hill said during the Jan. 28 meeting. “That’s good, but you would have to pay for it, and I don’t think that’s right.”
Hill said he was seriously thinking about introducing a legislative bill that would require the cost be split 50/50 between the state and each school district.
“If safety is truly part of the education program, it needs to be funded,” he said. “We don’t want to get the cart before the horse as we do sometimes in Nashville.”
Hill’s initial idea also would have had the number of SROs per school determined by student population.
He filed his Safe Schools Act of 2013 late last week with some significant differences from those initial plans, which he shared at a meeting with county officials Monday morning.
“It was originally going to be 50/50, but I went back and made it more vague,” he said, explaining the bill now states “a portion” of funding will come from the state.
In addition, Hill said he scrapped the tier level that would determine the number of officers assigned to each school.
“Now the sheriff’s office decides how many a school needs,” he said.
Hill, State Rep. Micah Van Huss (R-Johnson City) and State Sen. Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City) met with representatives from the Washington County Board of Education, school system, sheriff’s office and county commission to share information about the proposed legislation.
Crowe is carrying the bill in the senate.
The bill does not mandate, but rather offers districts the choice to opt in, since some schools can’t afford an SRO program. The SRO program would be administered by the sheriff’s office.