LUMBERTON — Southside-Ashpole Elementary School will have a school resource officer to help keep students and staff safe during the school year that begins Aug. 27.
The North Carolina Innovative School District has been awarded a state grant to hire an officer for the school in Rowland, according to David Prickett, a spokesman for the ISD.
Southside-Ashpole is the only school in the district created by the General Assembly with the goal of turning low-performing schools into academically successful schools. The ISD will control Southside-Ashpole for the next five years.
Funding for the officer will come from a mix of grant money and non-state matching funds, according to the application document.
The document reads in part that “a maximum of $33,333 per school per year will be awarded, for a total of $50,000 including the non-State match. SRO training may be funded if provided, in partnership with the public school unit, by a community college, a local law enforcement agency, or the North Carolina Justice Academy. Any training shall include instruction on research into the social and cognitive development of elementary school and middle school children.”
The new officer is expected to benefit the school and Rowland because the officer will be another law enforcement resource in the area, Prickett said.
The use of school resource officers has been much discussed over the past few years because of the number of shootings in schools across the nation.
In the wake of the Feb. 14 shooting at at school in Parkland, Fla., the local superintendent conducted a survey of Robeson County’s public schools.
“Public Schools of Robeson County administrators, staff and school resource officers will remain on high alert due to recent events,” Wooten said at the time. “We will continue to review and revise school safety plans, use metal detectors intermittently and practice safety drills.”
Wooten’s survey revealed 17 critical areas that need improvement in the county’s schools. Wooten said she believes that the No. 1 obstacle to school safety is funding for equipment and resource officers.
There is at least one school resource officer in all the county’s public high schools and two middle schools at all times, and the rest of the schools share resource officers.
The school board recently asked for an increase in funding from the Robeson County Board of Commissioners with some of the money intended to put school resource officers in all the schools, but the request was denied.