School district pledges funds for seven more SROs

The district will pull from reserves to match law enforcement agencies

Posted 6/21/19

The school board has approved money to provide additional school resource officers for the 2019-20 school year. At a June 18 meeting, the Douglas County School District Board of Education approved …

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School district pledges funds for seven more SROs

The district will pull from reserves to match law enforcement agencies

Posted

The school board has approved money to provide additional school resource officers for the 2019-20 school year.

At a June 18 meeting, the Douglas County School District Board of Education approved next year's budget, which draws $429,000 from reserves to help fund seven additional SROs at neighborhood middle schools.

Local law enforcement agencies will cover 50% of the cost, as they do for the current SROs assigned to each of the county's nine traditional high schools, as well as charter school SkyView Academy and Valor Christian, a private high school. In many cases, those resource officers also oversee the high schools' feeder middle schools.

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office will provide five of the SROs, and the Castle Rock and Parker police department will each provide one.

The board's decision was made about six weeks after the May 7 shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch that left one student dead and eight others injured. The tragedy spurred communitywide discussion on whether a district that serves 68,000 students has enough SROs.

STEM School Highlands Ranch did not have a school resource officer this past academic year, and instead contracted with a private security firm.

Three weeks after the shooting, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners rolled out a plan it says could provide 48 more school resource officers to Douglas County schools in the next three years, bringing the total from 13 to 61.

The county has pledged $3 million a year to support the SROs, but the money is contingent on an annual match of $3 million from schools in the county. DCSD staff and board members said funding the match would be nearly impossible.

School board President David Ray confirmed that the district will be splitting SRO costs with local law enforcement agencies.

"It is still unclear how the Board of County Commissioners plan to distribute excess taxpayer revenue that they have earmarked for school safety," Ray said in an email correspondence.

Kory Nelson, the parent of a student at Legend High School in Parker, serves on the county's Physical School Safety and Protection Funding Committee, formed in recent weeks to make recommendations to county commissioners on how to spend a one-time gift of $10 million for school safety and mental health resources.

During public comment, Nelson called the board's decision to fund an additional seven SROs a “great move.”

“The question is whether or not it's enough,” he added.

The National Association of School Resource Officers used to recommend one SRO per 1,000 students but now advises schools take individual factors into consideration. That could include a building's location, campus size and culture.

Most of Douglas County's nine traditional high schools have at least 1,500 students, some more than 2,000.

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