GCPS to add second SROPublished 9:00am Monday, January 20, 2014
GATESVILLE – Help is on the way.
At their meeting here last week, the Gates County Board of Commissioners gave their blessings to a plan that will allow special funding to be used to place a second School Resource Officer (SRO) within the Gates County Public Schools system.
Currently, GCPS has one SRO – Gates County Sheriff’s Sgt. Robert Jordan, who has been in that position for the past five years. He is assigned to the high school, but is responsible for answering calls at Buckland, Gatesville and T.S. Cooper elementary schools as well as Central Middle School.
The second SRO will be assigned to the middle school, but will be available to answer calls at the other schools, and providing back-up for Jordan.
“Our school system here has been working on an initiative with the (state’s) Safe Schools Act to try to secure a grant for an additional SRO,” said Gates County Sheriff Ed Webb. “That grant was approved; we have funding for two years at the middle school.”
Currently, Webb said Sgt. Jordan interacts well and on a consistent daily basis with school-age children.
“This grant gives us an additional officer interacting with our young people….if we can get these kids heading in the right direction at a younger age we feel there will be a lot less truancy and these students are more involved with their work,” Webb added.
He added that Jordan currently covers all five schools.
“Having this additional SRO will mean he and Sgt. Jordan can basically cut the county in half,” Webb stressed. “Right now, Sgt. Jordan also travels with our sports teams…he drives the bus. The additional officer can help out with that.”
The Safe Schools Act has granted GatesCounty $28,000 annually for the next two years. GCPS is kicking in $14,000 to supplement the new SRO’s salary and benefits.
“As of last week in court, the county was able to obtain a 2003 Ford Crown Victoria seized in the state’s ‘Run and You’re Done’ law (felony speeding to elude arrest), from one of our local street racers,” Webb reported. “We have that car in our possession and will use it for the new SRO position.”
Webb said the car will be equipped with spare equipment and ready to roll.
“All we need is your (commissioners’) approval to move forward….the school board is behind this 100 percent,” he added.
Schools Superintendent Dr. Barry Williams and Adrianne Bradley represented GCPS at the commissioners’ meeting.
Bradley said the state Department of Public Instruction made the grant funds available.
“We felt we could not miss this opportunity to enhance what we have here in our schools,” Bradley remarked. “We’re pleased with what we have in place now with Deputy Jordan, but it’s hard on him when we stretch him across five schools. Another School Resource Officer helps us in our goal to develop our young people.”
“The most important thing to us, above academics, is safety in our schools,” Williams noted. “You must offer a safe learning environment for the students.”
He read from an article entitled “One Year Later” – a grim reminder of what took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012.
“We do not need a Resource Officer to discipline students, we do that,” Williams said. “But we need a Resource Officer to make sure our schools are safe.”
“This is an opportunity we can’t afford not to take advantage of,” said Commissioner Linda Hofler, a retired school teacher.
“Deputy Jordan has made a big impact with the students,” Commission Vice Chairman Jack Owens stated. “He demands and receives respect from the students.”