Funding Sought For More Armed Officers In NY SchoolsPosted: Updated:
Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputy Carrie Mangino is the school resource officer for Indian River Central School District. She says her number one priority is making sure the students she interacts with everyday are safe.
"The New York state guidelines say that we have to do a minimum of four lock-down drills at each school, every year, so that is 32 lock-down drills within our district, with all the schools," she said.
But school resource officers, like Deputy Mangino, are few and far between in north country schools. Right now, there are only four school districts in Jefferson County and one school district in Lewis County that have a school resource officer. None of the school districts in St. Lawrence County have one. What it comes down to is cost.
"With school budgets being what they are, if you're asking the school districts to fund those programs out of their existing state aid, it's a difficult position for the schools to be in," said St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES District Superintendent Tom Burns.
Indian River Central School District is fortunate; it can budget $70,000 for its school resource officer. But that's much harder for smaller school districts, like Copenhagen Central.
That's why the New York State Sheriff's Association, Senator Patty Ritchie and other state senators are asking for funding to be included in the 2018 state budget so every school district across the state can have a school resource officer. Copenhagen Central School District Superintendent Scott Connell says that's something he would like to see.
"We have troopers in and out of our building often, but we don't have anybody here permanently and I wish we did," he said.
There was a program that assigned members of the state police to be school resource officers for specific school districts. That program ended in 2008 when its state funding stopped.