Shenandoah supervisors OK funds for school security

^ Posted Feb. 12

By Alex Bridges

WOODSTOCK -- The Board of Supervisors at its morning meeting voted 6-0 on a motion to authorize County Administrator Douglas Walker to spend $50,000 of the school system's carryover funds, unspent from fiscal 2012, to supplement law enforcement security efforts at local public schools.

The motion directed Walker to work with Sheriff Timothy Carter to decide how best to meet that goal. Supervisor David Ferguson said he wanted to see the county Sheriff's Office put temporary security at each of the system's 10 schools. The motion leaves it open as to how the Sheriff's Office would make that happen.

The motion also returned the remaining $243,861 of the carryover funds to the School Board with a strong recommendation that its members and Superintendent D. Keith Rowland use the money to enhance security at the schools. As Ferguson explained, the School Board would decide how best to spend the money it receives.

Ferguson, who brought up the proposal at the board's work session Thursday, said the county should act now rather than wait until after the budget process is completed.

Supervisor Sharon Baroncelli said she agreed with the concept staffing security at the schools, but expressed concern on whether the county should spend school money on a function of the Sheriff's Office. Baroncelli noted that the School Board recently identified building maintenance needs at a cost of more than $400,000. She suggested the county give the School Board the carryover money and then use $50,000 from the general fund to pay for the sheriff's needs.

Rowland thanked Ferguson for finding a way to aid the school system and noted the need for security as indicated by residents who spoke at several forums on the subject.

"They want to make sure that we have an SRO [security resource officer] in every building, 100 percent of the time," Rowland said.

The superintendent added that the school system has other needs.

The amount to cover putting deputies in the other schools likely may not reach the $50,000, Ferguson said. The supervisor explained he calculated the $50,000 amount by looking at the number of days remaining in the school year - approximately 80 - and the average hourly wage earned by officers of $18.

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