Grant to put resource officers in RSS middle schools

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 20, 2013

The Rowan-Salisbury School System will have school resource officers in all its middle schools thanks to a grant from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.
School system officials said in a news release the state awarded Rowan-Salisbury $234,000 a year for two years. The district will add $117,000 a year to that amount as a local match.
The school system plans to have the middle school resource officers in place by March, the news release said.
Our school board recognizes that without question we must provide the safest learning environment for our students and staff, Dr. Richard Miller, chairman of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education, said.  Having an officer on campus at every middle and high school is a step in the right direction. Now we can focus on resource officers for our elementary schools. 
The district previously had a resource officer on each of the middle school campuses, but during the 2009-2010 school year, those jobs were eliminated due to budget cuts and a lack of funding.
Last year, the General Assembly allocated $7 million to fund salaries and training for school resource officers across the state in elementary and middle schools. The Rowan-Salisbury school board voted in September to apply for the grant.
We are very excited about the notion to reinstate middle school resource officers, Nathan Currie, the districts assistant superintendent of administration, said in the news release. I am glad the board has provided their support to further improve safety on our school campuses. We are also thankful for the ongoing positive relationship that we have with law enforcement. I have met with each agency and they have been more than supportive of our efforts.
Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten will provide officers for West Middle, Southeast Middle and Erwin Middle schools.  North Rowan Middle will be served by the Spencer Police Department, and the China Grove Police Department will serve China Grove Middle.  Corriher-Lipe Middle will be served by Landis Police Department.  The city of Salisbury will continue to fund the school resource officer at Knox Middle.
Currie said the grant will fund training for the resource officers, including basic law enforcement and anti-gang programs. He said principals would become more involved as officers are placed in the schools.
In addition to the obvious safety reasons for having an officer on the school campus, the SROs also develop trusting relationships with students and become role models and mentors for our students, school system Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody said in the news release. You never know how these relationships alone can alter and change the life of a child. I am thrilled that the state recognizes this safety need and that our district is fortunate to be receiving the funding.