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Additional school resource officers are coming soon to each public school district in Sumter, Clarendon and Lee counties.
The 12 total SROs coming to tri-county districts are part of a total of 205 state Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced on Thursday the state Department of Education is funding through $11,864,005 in South Carolina General Assembly appropriations for the 2019-20 fiscal year.
All 81 traditional public school districts, the Erskine Charter Institute and S.C. Public Charter School District will receive funds to pay for one to four new officers depending on the district's need and current lack of coverage, according to the state DOE.
The amount of funding is based on the cost of the salary and benefits for a full-time SRO provided by the district's local law enforcement agencies.
Spearman, Gov. Henry McMaster, S.C. Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel and the S.C. Department of Mental Health established a school safety vision in 2018 that included having an SRO and mental health counselor in every school along with additional resources and training for students, educators and communities.
Spearman said in a news release the 205 officers puts within reach part of that goal.
"School resource officers are a deterrent to violence within the school building, and their training and response to crime is an invaluable asset that allows educators to focus on instruction," she said.
The General Assembly has also provided $2.2 million in additional funds to hire more mental health counselors, according to the state DOE.
Clarendon County School District 3 will receive one officer, while Clarendon County School Districts 1 and 2 were each allotted funds for two SROs. Lee County School District will get enough to support three officers, and Sumter School District will soon welcome four new officers.
With the addition of four SROs in Sumter, the district will have a total of 12, according to Shelly Galloway, spokeswoman for the school district.
She said district administration is thankful the state DOE approved its request to fund four officers and that they will be "allocated accordingly."
"Through a wide range of comprehensive responsibilities including law enforcement, problem solving, teaching, counseling and crisis management, SROs are a valuable part of our school environment," she said.
Throughout the state, 28 districts will receive four officers, five will get three officers, 25 will get two officers and 22 will get one officer, according to state data. Orangeburg County, a recently consolidated district, will receive six officers.
Additional school resource officers funded
Clarendon 1 - 2
Clarendon 2 - 2
Clarendon 3 - 1
Lee - 3
Sumter - 4
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