Troup Co. School Board to vote Thursday on Re-approval of funds for resources officers

LaGRANGE – In the midst of county discussions about public safety pay, the Troup County School Board discussed the re-approval of funds for school resource officers for the three schools not covered by city school resource officers.

The school board is being asked to approve $150,000 to cover school resource officers for the three schools that are out in the county as part of an annual contract with the Troup County Board of Commissioners, but the big question for planning the fiscal year 2018 budget was how recent changes to county pay would affect the costs. However, the school board has been assured that the costs from the county will not rise with this year’s budget.

“(County Manager Tod Tentler) has assured me that they are not going to ask for a pay increase this year even with all of that (with the pay study), and that is why the $150,000,” said Byron Jones, chief financial advisor.

The Troup County School Board contracts out school resource officer positions to the city and county for cost reasons, including the cost of benefits.

“They are doing good out there, but they are not our employees,” said John Radcliffe, the assistant superintendent for Troup County Schools. “Some districts have resource officers and they are full time employees at school districts whereas these officers with both the city and the county are being employed by them.”

There were questions of if making school resource officers school employees instead of city and county employees could be a better use of resources in the long run.

“I just wanted to know if we had looked at that with other systems having those SROs employed by the system – it was my understanding in other areas and in other systems – it is cheaper and more productive for the SRO to be employed by the system rather than through the county,” said board member Brandon Brooks. “I just want to make sure that we are getting as much as we can for the money.”

The possible drawbacks to having the officers employed with the school would be potentially higher insurance rates and the cost of training and outfitting the officers. The benefits could include better hours and job consistency for the school resource officers.

The school system has only recently moved to put school resource officers back in middle schools for security reasons. The school resource officers also patrol ballgames and other events to provide additional safety to those attending.

The Troup County Board of Education plans to meet on Thursday to vote on this expenditure along with others.