Effingham County schools will be getting an additional school resource officer after county commissioners approved funding for a fifth SRO by a 4-2 vote last week.
The Effingham County School System is trying to put a resource officer at each of its two high schools and three middle schools.
A vehicle, if needed for a school resource officer, would be about $22,000, said county human resources director Rushe Hudzinski-Sero. Total compensation including benefits is about $60,000. The total cost for a SRO with a vehicle, vehicle maintenance and fuel would be approximately $85,450.
“They’re passing the buck from the school system to the county,” said Commissioner Bob Brantley.
As an additional position, it would require additional funds, Hudzinski-Sero said. But it would not come with reimbursement from the school system.
SROs use vehicles since they also perform traffic control at their respective schools.
SROs also serve as road deputies when school is not in session and escort interscholastic teams to competitions during the school year.
“We should not have to buy a new vehicle,” said County Administrator David Crawley. “We will take an existing sheriff’s office vehicle and revamp it.”
Crawley said SROs generally get vehicles that have higher mileage totals because they typically don’t go on high-speed chases.
The school board increased its funding for SROs to $109,000 a year, Crawley said.
Commissioner Verna Phillips, who along with Chairman Dusty Zeigler voted against the proposal, said she supported the idea of having school resource officers and wanted to ensure that students are safe. But she also wondered if the school system could help pay for the personnel.
“Now that we have to pick up the library costs, I think the schools should pick up the resource officers,” she said. “I want resource officers; don’t get me wrong.”
Crawley said it could potentially reduce the county’s costs by having a deputy already at the school instead of having to dispatch one to a school for an incident, along with handling traffic control.
Crawley said he and school Superintendent Randy Shearouse will be attending the next meeting of the library board, which is set for October.