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School districts make plans and face obstacles to assign School Resource Officers to every campus

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Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 5:46 PM EDT
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(WYMT) - A recently passed law in Kentucky mandates every school district assign a School Resource Officer (SRO) to each of its campuses.

House Bill 63 passed the General Assembly during the 2022 legislative session and was signed into law by Governor Andy Beshear in April.

Since then school districts across the region have put plans in motion to comply with the law by the August 1, 2022 deadline.

Laurel County Schools Superintendent Doug Bennett said he supports any measure to protect students.

”We want to remove obstacles. We want to remove distractions so that students and staff can focus on the mission of a school system, and that is teaching and learning,” said Bennett.

Superintendent Bennett said the district will establish its own police department and employ 20 full-time SROs to comply with the law.

However, training for an SRO is significant and may cost a district between $60,000 and $80,000 a year.

”Now this is an unfunded mandate with limited time. Very limited time,” said Bennett. “But, regardless, we’re going to make it happen.”

Smaller counties a greater challenge than time or money.

Letcher County Public Schools Superintendent Denise Yonts said she also supports to measure fully, but worries about meeting the mandate.

”We can build in our budget. It will take us longer, it will take us more than a year to build in seven new positions, but if I had the money today I couldn’t find the people,” Yonts said adding that the biggest challenge is finding the right people to hold this position of trust within the schools.

”It takes a special officer to be an SRO,” Yonts said. “To work in a school building with children of all ages dealing with what happens on a daily basis in that building and then to protect them, and have that relationship with them, it takes a special person. You can’t just pull any officer to be an SRO.”

Yonts said they will do everything they can to comply with the mandate. She hopes that working with the Kentucky Center for School Safety may yield results.

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