$175k grant makes officers in district schools a reality.
By Meg Dickens
The Johnson County School Board is taking further steps to ensure child safety in the 2019-2020, school year with additional security.
On August 9, Supervisor of Elementary Education Angie Wills confirmed the state’s approval of the $175,000 School Resource Officer (SRO) grant, which will go towards hiring SROs for every school in the district.
Officer Michael Murphy joined forces with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department and Johnson County Schools to protect Johnson County Middle School earlier this year.
“Unfortunately, it’s become a necessity across the nation,” School Board Chairman Howard Carlton explained. “We want to protect our kids here in Johnson County. On behalf of the Board, I want to thank you.”
Wills first announced a pending grant opportunity at the School Board’s August 8 meeting.
The grant has prompted Johnson County Sheriff Eddie Tester to start the process of hiring five new officers.
The county is required to provide a 25 percent local match. This match will come from the Sheriff Department, which will provide the officers with equipment such as uniforms, patrol vehicles, and more.
According to grant documentation, “SROs are duly sworn and authorized law enforcement officers assigned to a school setting.” By law, SROs must receive 40 hours of specialized training during their first year of duty and an additional 16 hours annually. These trained officers are members of the Sheriff’s Department.
“I am very excited to receive these positions from this grant as we can now ensure the safety that the students, staff, and parents deserve,” said Tester, who has been a prominent supporter of this endeavor.
Tester personally contacted Tennessee State Representative Timothy Hill in regards to this grant’s shelf-life. There are no guarantees, but Hill seems confident that this funding will continue for the foreseeable future.
“We are always looking for ways to provide the safest environment for our students and staff,” said Director of Schools Mischelle Simcox. “We thank Sheriff Tester for all the support he’s given us. We are always looking for ways to provide the safest environment for our students and staff.”
Keep an eye out for this update and more in the future. Officer Mark Gladden suggested one such update at the meeting. Officers will now take ride-along on various school buses to improve bus safety. Find out more about the Johnson County School Board and its meeting schedule at www.jocoed.net.