PATASKALA, OH (WCMH) — Student safety is on the forefront of many school administrators’ minds following tragic recent events.
Some are considering school resource officers (SROs), not only to develop positive relationships with students, but to have on campus immediately in the case of a threat.
Southwest Licking Local Schools Superintendent Bob Jennell said they’ve been considering hiring an SRO since last fall.
“He’s going to get into each of the buildings, get to know the staff, get to know the students,” he said.
After approval from the county commissioners and school board, Licking County Deputy Marc Brill will being his duties in the school district on Monday.
“That makes me feel a little bit more confident so it’s safer here,” said parent Kim Virden.
Parents are welcoming their district’s new SRO.
“I’m glad for it,” said parent Juli Paulin. “I think it’s a reasonable response to the concerns of our country and our nation and I think it’s a good response to allow parents to feel more at ease that they have safety in our classrooms.”
The SRO is a proud Watkins Memorial High School graduate, Deputy Marc Brill.
“Students can’t learn and can’t be productive citizens unless they feel safe and it’s a team effort,” said Paulin.
Superintendent Jennell said this is just one piece of their school safety plan.
“We’ve had all of teachers trained in ALICE. We’ve had local law enforcement come in and do a lot of drills with us,” he said. “We train them in the use of the barricade system which was installed throughout our building.”
Besides threats, Jennell said students face a lot of challenges today like cyber-bullying and sexting. He hopes students will talk to Deputy Brill about these issues and more.
“I really believe the relationship that the sheriff’s department can develop with our students is a vital one,” he said. “Not just for in school, but out of school.”
The district will pay 75% of the officer’s salary or about $70,000 per year. The sheriff’s office will pay the remaining 25%.
For now, the plan is to have Deputy Brill in the school for at least three years.
“We hope that it maintains, if not grows,” said Jennell.
Each school building in the district has a report form where students, parents or community members can anonymously submit potential problems. Administrators encourage people if they see something, say something.