After several non-credible threats to area schools followed the Feb. 14 Florida school shooting, the New York State Sheriff’s Association called for provision of student resource officer (SRO) funding in the 2018 State Budget.
The statement, issued Feb. 22, requests “sufficient funding to provide at least one armed school resource officer at every grade school and high school in the state.” The statement cites roughly 4,750 public schools and 2,000 private academies statewide.
The Sheriff’s Association announcement was met with strong approval at the local level, from Delaware County Sheriff Craig DuMond and area superintendents.
DuMond said, for him, the statement signals a much-needed call to action.
“We can no longer continue to talk about this,” he said. “The time to act has come. We have protections for politicians, banks and public spaces like airports and everyone says our most-cherished resource—our future—is our children, yet all we do is talk about this.”
DuMond said, regardless of State Budget outcomes, taxpayers have a responsibility to make SRO funding a reality. The Sheriff’s Association said establishing a full-time SRO would be “roughly equivalent to … adding one teacher to each school,” or $50,000 to 75,000.
“As a taxpayer myself,” DuMond said, “if my school district came to me said, ‘We need to add another academic salary (to make this happen),’ my only response to that is ‘Can I have two?’” He said, “I believe the state should provide funding for this, but if that doesn’t happen, I don’t think this … is insurmountable for any school district.”
He added, “No one wants to exceed the tax cap … but I think people are ready to make an investment in their schools. A school is a precious environment.”
Following the Feb. 22 release, DuMond said, response from Delaware County residents has been “overwhelmingly positive.”
He said, “The public is … willing this happen.”
DuMond said support from area elected officials has also been strong and swift.
Mentioning Sen. Akshar’s recently launched series of school-based safety forums and promising feedback from Sen. Seward and Assemblyman Crouch, he said, “The local politicians are all very supportive. The groundswell is there to make something happen.”
Sidney Central School District represents one of the few to have reinstated its SRO after budget cuts removed the statewide program in 2011.