BEAUFORT — County commissioners, in a 6-1 vote with Commissioner Bob Cavanaugh dissenting, agreed Monday to fund school resource officers for schools in Newport and Morehead City if matching state funds come through.

The decision came prior to approving the county’s budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year, during the board’s meeting in the administration building in Beaufort.

County staff informed commissioners a request for additional SRO services came from Morehead City and Newport officials. Specifically, the two municipalities requested a combined three SROs.

“We received a request from the town of Newport to share an SRO between Newport Elementary and Newport Middle School,” explained County Manager Tommy Burns, who added there was an additional request for Morehead Middle School, Morehead Primary and Morehead Elementary.

Like the proposed SRO for Newport, County Chairperson Mark Mansfield suggested Morehead Primary and Morehead Elementary share an SRO officer.

Funding for the three positions will come from a number of sources, including some money from the state, but the county’s portion would total $16,000 per officer. Mr. Burns later added that the total salary is $60,000 for each officer.

“That’s salary, with benefits and everything,” Mr. Burns said.

Mr. Mansfield said the county’s funding is contingent on the state providing its share in the coming budget.

“Because if the state doesn’t fund, I don’t want to be back in another position like we are in MaST right now,” Mr. Mansfield said, referring to a lack of funds in the state House budget proposal for early college high schools, including Carteret County’s Marine Science and Technologies Early College High School.

At Monday’s meeting, the commissioners agreed to fund the school’s budget request, but specified they would like to see the money go instead to retaining approximately seven teaching positions set to be cut due to a drop in state and federal money related to enrollment.

Thursday, the school board upheld that request in a 4-3 vote, shuttering the early college high school that had operated for one year on the campus of Carteret Community College.

As far as the SRO request, Commissioner Jonathan Robinson suggested the county could save money by using a security guard instead of an SRO at the elementary schools. He added that while keeping schools safe is important, maybe there isn’t as pressing a need to have SROs at an elementary school as a high school.  

Commissioner Ed Wheatly asked Mr. Robinson to explain his reasoning. Mr. Robinson said elementary schools simply don’t have to deal with many of the things, like drop-out students, that high schools do.

Mr. Wheatly expressed concerns about not having 100% SRO coverage.

“I figure that if you take 10 schools and put SROs in five of those schools, you make the five that don’t have SROs the target,” Mr. Wheatly said. “I think that if we are going to put SROs in the schools, then I think we should do all the schools.”

Mr. Mansfield said it’s an issue of funding.

“They’re all equally important, but we have a request from the town of Newport and the town of Morehead City,” Mr. Mansfield said.

Contact Dean-Paul Stephens at 252-726-7081, ext. 232; email Dean@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @DeanPEStephens.

(10) comments

Core Sounder

60 grand a year for a part time security guard? You crowd are starting to mimic National defense spenders. Advertise for some security guards as a part time job and with many many former military living in this area it should be easy enough to get good people. God forbid that we make an effort to take some of our present law enforcement folks and ask them to do one of the most important jobs in our County and that's protecting our children. I much prefer to see us protecting our kids instead of staked out looking for folks with expired inspection stickers or expired tags.

beachmami13

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

BoatChief

The Officer would not be getting the 60K a year, the article stated that it includes benefits. Costs that the county covers for all employees. Where did it state part time? Being a School Resource Officer is a full time job, and when school is out they go back on the road, or to the state training academies to receive more training that the state says has to be completed. I think that the mandated expenses that the state/Fed govt is putting on the local gov't is out of touch.

Osprey

Core Sounder is spot on.

CARTERETISCORRUPT

You don't get it. Expired inspections, tags and speeding bring in money. SRO's cost money. Security is a distant second place. There are many qualified folks to do this job, but some think cops are the only resource. When it comes down to the brass tacks, to protect against an armed encounter, it takes a exceptional marksman to do the job along with courage. Cops seldom possess this quality.

Core Sounder

you make some good points CARTERETISCORRUPT but would think our citizens of this County would demand that our law enforcement spend more time protecting our children at school than cruising around all day looking for vehicles parking in places that they are not supposed to park and other such micky mouse petty offenses. Still cant believe why they are in such a hurry to pay someone 60K a year to walk up and down the schools halls 0 months each year along with 25 to 30 days off during school year due to holidays, teacher work days, plus several weeks of vacation time when school is closed.

beachmami13

As a teacher, I find it shocking that they find it hard to raise teacher pay, but SRO's get 60k. How is this ok?

Girlnthecreek

An SRO is labeled such from the department he or she works from. That is their primary designation. When school is out, they go on back on the road, they don't have a "several weeks" vacation. Regarding 60k a year that is the overall speading budget for that position including actual salary AND benefit like medical, 401k and retirement. The officer doesn't make 60k a year. Don't get me started on state employee's raises vs teachers.

CARTERETISCORRUPT

They put metal detectors and more guns that makes sense to protect the corrupt at the courthouse. The students are not all that important. If the court house folks were more accountable and honest, the metal detector and guns wouldn't be needed. After all, how many shootings have happened at the courthouse? How many in schools? So, who is more important?

Core Sounder

Think we all pretty much agree that Carteret County has plenty of folks with badges, guns , and uniforms so why not simply assign 2 or 3 to guard those schools instead of patrolling our roads looking for litterbugs, expired decals etc. One would think that protecting our small children while in school would be a little more important even though I do realize that money can be raised by given out traffic tickets. Don't believe that we need more badges so much as we need to set priorities on how to use those that wear the badges.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.