BY CURTIS CARDEN, Elizabethton Star
With the State of Tennessee putting an emphasis on school safety, Elizabethton City Schools, Elizabethton Police Department and City Council are partnering together to help ensure security remains throughout the district.
Currently, there are two dedicated student resource officers within the school system — Elizabethton High School and T.A. Dugger Junior High School — with each of the elementary schools also receiving security from policemen from regular patrols and school tours. However, each of the three elementary schools in the city do not have a dedicated position for an officer.
Moving forward, the implementation of SROs at each school within the city is gaining traction and now assistance is on the way thanks in part to the Safety Schools Act that passed in April through state government.
In the act ushered in by Gov. Bill Haslam, schools across the state are receiving additional grant funding to help with school security. Officials with ECS indicated that roughly $80,000 in one-time funding is expected to come through this year and that funding will go toward helping fund the salaries of additional SROs.
Elizabethton Director of Schools Dr. Corey Gardenhour indicated Tuesday that once funding comes in, it would be directly transferred over to the city to help fund the SRO program.
“We want to thank City Council, Police Chief (Jason) Shaw and the entire department for their support of this program,” Gardenhour said. “This wouldn’t be possible without the support from everyone involved.”
Gardenhour added EPD has been an asset in keeping schools secure over the years.
According to a letter provided by the director to City Council, the estimate of reoccurring money is around $16,000, which can be put toward a salary if funded each year.
“Currently, we receive about $13,000, which is part of our match for one of our officers,” Gardenhour stated in the letter. “A total of $29,000 of reoccurring dollars should be available if the estimates are accurate.”
Chief Shaw added the hope is to add SROs to each of the elementary schools through the school year.