Paying for school security could cost taxpayers $6 million

Paying for school security could cost taxpayers $6 million

(WMC-TV) - Shelby County leaders want to use nearly $6 million of your tax money to pay for school security in the Unified School District.

How will that money be used?

The city county school merger means that schools where you now see Memphis police officers will have sheriff's deputies and crossing guards.

The sheriff told county leaders it will cost nearly $6 million for the 2013-2014 school year..

Sheriff's spokesman Chip Washington says creating a new school resource officer detail for the merged system takes careful planning.

"We have to put in place a model for security, we'd have to hire individuals, and more importantly train these individuals," said Washington.

Documents the sheriff's office shared with the county commission reveal the county will need 35 additional officers.

The process to hire and train them will cost more than $4million per year, including accessories like patrol cars and uniforms.

The sheriff's office is working closely with the Memphis Police Department, which now provides security for city schools.

"Figure out exactly what participation the Memphis Police Department will have in this, but again, we have to move forward to begin to plan ahead of next August," explained Washington.

A relationship between the sheriff's office and juvenile court will be critical in this effort

Commissioners say the issue is particularly delicate, after the Department of Justice found the juvenile court treated black children more harshly than white children.

"What really is paramount here is the safety and security of the faculty, staff, and students at Shelby County Schools," said Washington.

The sheriff's office would also oversee 238 school crossing guards. They told the county commission they need an additional $1.8 million to cover that cost.

That total cost also includes one support clerk.

The county commission is exploring the possibility of hiring a private firm to handle security responsibilities.

They will revisit the issue in the coming weeks.

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