Stillwater Public Schools Cut Resource Officers From Budget
STILLWATER, Oklahoma - School resource officers are the people so many of our schools look to for student safety and yet one Oklahoma school district has decided it can't protect them from budget cuts.
Administrators for the Stillwater Public School District are cutting their school resource officers, along with numerous other staff positions.
Parents in Stillwater understand the school district is having to deal with reduced funding but with school shootings so frequently in the news and especially with Stillwater's own recent school tragedy, the cut hurts.
In September 2012, a 13-year-old committed suicide while at Stillwater Junior High.
"There's a lot of raw feelings in Stillwater over that incident," Kim Brandt, like many parents in the community, felt the impact of that tragedy. Her children attend Stillwater Junior High and High School.
Brandt believes three school resource officers dedicated to the Stillwater Public Schools District were crucial in helping student safety during the 2012 incident.
She feels the officers are also providing student's with a sense of security now.
"We feel and our students feel more comfortable with an officer there," said Brandt
Brandt and other parents shared their thoughts during the Stillwater Board of Education meeting on Monday. The District announced its facing $1.8 million in budget cuts and can no longer afford to pay school resource officers.
Assistant Superintendent Terry McCarty explained by eliminating the positions the district will save $75,000 next year.
"We are choosing to move in a different direction," McCarty says the decision was made administratively so it will not go before the board for approval. "We take school safety and security very very seriously."
McCarty said the district is working with Stillwater Police and the City of Stillwater to come up with a solution.
Stillwater High School Resource Officer Kerry Bales does not see it that way.
"The administrators have enough to worry about with testing and curriculum. We are there to concentrate strictly on the safety of the students and that helps the peace of mind of parents," said Bales.
Most parents agree with the school resource officers concern and warned administrators such cuts could compromise student safety.