LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Jefferson County Board of Education is slated to discuss and approve policies in the next two months surrounding school resource officers as Kentucky’s largest school district transitions to employing its own security force.
The board is scheduled to talk about matters such as standard operating procedures for its new team of about 50 SROs and how they’ll be assigned to schools at a Sept. 24 work session and approve policies during an Oct. 15 meeting, according to a timeline presented to the board Tuesday.
Those meetings will ultimately clarify things like whether the officers will be allowed to carry weapons while on duty, what sort of internal training they’ll receive and what uniforms they’ll wear in schools.
The debate on a new school security force for Jefferson County Public Schools comes after a split board vote Aug. 6 ultimately nixed the district’s contracts with law enforcement agencies for 11 SROs during the current school year. The Louisville Metro Council passed a budget earlier this year that pulled 17 Louisville Metro Police officers out of JCPS schools and back into regular patrols.
JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio told board members that the district has about $1.1 million available to spend on hiring new officers this school year after the SRO contracts weren’t approved. The district has repurposed seven security monitors to provide school security, with two additional jobs currently open, Chief Operations Officer Mike Raisor said.
But exactly how many will be part of the first SRO class assigned to schools in February will be determined by a project manager that the district plans to hire through June 30, he said, adding later that he expected the first round of hires to be around a dozen officers.
“We have to have a project manager in place to know how many that we could hire,” Pollio said.
Job descriptions for the project manager and clerk for the SRO team are scheduled to be put before the board for approval Sept. 10, with hires expected by Oct. 1, under the timeline presented Tuesday.
That project manager will be in charge of getting the district’s SRO force off the ground, including hiring and training the officers. The district expects to hire and begin training the first crop of officers in November.
In its plan, the district calls for assigning an SRO to every middle and high school and splitting patrols for elementary schools.
But whether that will come to fruition remains to be seen.
Chris Kolb, the board’s vice chair who represents District 2, asked why the district is nearly doubling its SRO force. Although a new school safety law passed by the General Assembly this year calls for school districts to hire an officer for every school, Kolb noted that’s contingent on funding.
“We all know we have hundreds of millions of dollars of funding that we could spend on other initiatives, so why do we think that every middle and high school needs one?” Kolb said.
Pollio said how SROs are assigned to schools would need to be decided by the board as it solidified policies surrounding the new security team.
“I think those will be discussions we will have to have in policy,” he said. “Do you want them one per school, or do you want them stationed in a school, or do you want them to have a group of schools?”
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