Many school districts are not waiting around for a bill in the Indiana legislature that would use state dollars to put more police officers in schools.
The Vigo County Sheriff announced a proposal this week to add 10 deputies to the county’s rural schools. Sheriff Greg Ewing says it can take police officers 10 to 15 minutes to respond to a school emergency in the county’s more rural areas. While he hopes legislators approve the bill that would provide more resources to school security, he is not waiting around for it.
“You’re rolling the dice, you’re playing roulette with children’s safety and to sit here and say there may be money coming from the feds or there may be money coming from the state,” Ewing says. “We’ll that’s all fine and dandy, and when it does we’ll be ahead of the curve. But to sit here and wait is a very dangerous situation to place not only our children and our schools but also the staff that educate them.”
The sheriff’s proposal would require the Vigo County School Corporation and Vigo County to contribute $135,000 each. Ewing estimates the state bill would only give the county $50,000 total.
Some school districts are taking a different approach. Shelby Eastern Schools in Shelbyville has extended its school officers’ work hours about two hours each day but only on a month to month basis.
Interim Superintendent Brad Valentine says the schools are waiting to implement a more permanent solution, pending the bill.
“Then also we’re ascertaining on a month to month basis the effectiveness of the officers,” Valentine says.
Valentine says the district’s security committee is also looking into how technology and electronic security equipment could alleviate the need for in-person officers.
The state bill, proposed by State Sen. Pete Miller (R-24), would allocate $10 million to additional school resource officers statewide. It is still in committee.