Grant helps to fund SRO at elementary schools

Jan. 21, 2014 @ 10:39 AM

A new state grant is helping Thomasville City Schools add another valuable tool to help ensure student safety.
Board of Education members on Jan. 7 unanimously approved the acceptance of a grant that provides money for school resource officers at primary and elementary schools. Mike Ingram, TCS technology director, said the school system received a School Resource Officer matching grant from the state and plans are to have the officer in place by March 1.
The  SRO will be responsible for Thomasville Primary School and Liberty Drive Elementary School.
“The legislature back in July budgeted $7 million to help provide additional SROs to middle and elementary schools,” Ingram said. “We have applied for and received a grant and are working with the City of Thomasville in order to secure local funding necessary to provide an SRO to be shared at Liberty Drive Elementary and Thomasville Primary School.'”
Conditions of the grant include a 2-for-1 match, meaning the state provides $2 for every $1 paid by the city. Ingram estimates the total cost of the project to be approximately $60,000, with $42,000 coming from grant funds.
“Right now we're working through a process that will allow us to secure the funding necessary to accomplish that goal,” said Ingram. “Duties and responsibilities have yet to be determined and we'll be doing so in conjunction with TCS and Thomasville Police Department.”
Police Chief Jeff Insley said the SRO probably will come from within the department as several officers already have inquired about the position. Adding another SRO, Insley said, provides another asset to keep students safe.
“This will enhance our delivery to Liberty Drive and the Primary school,” Insley said. “We want to do anything we can to ensure that our children are safe, that they have a safe environment for education and they grow up and be good citizens.”
Thomasville City Schools has an SRO at Thomasville High School and Thomasville Middle School. Insley feels SROs are a great way to build relationships and enhance the educational experience.
“Their role is unique,” said Insley. “They are there to ensure a safe environment. It does a lot also to allow students to see officers in a different light. You build a good rapport with [students] and open the lines of communication where they feel comfortable talking and growing together. In my opinion, it's an education role.”
Liberty Drive and Thomasville Primary schools are close in proximity and the SRO will spend time on both campuses. Terms of the new position have yet to be finalized.

Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or duke@tvilletimes.com.