School board, supervisors express support for SRO’s

On July 17, Gov. Ralph Northam announced he planned to call the Virginia General Assembly back into special session on Tuesday, Aug. 18. The reason for the special session, Northam said, was to adopt a budget based on revised revenue forecasts due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  Additionally, the governor said he wants to work closely with legislative leaders and “advocates” to propose additional criminal justice and policing reform.

In several cities and states across the nation today, “policing reform” often translates into “defunding” or “re-directing” funds from police agencies.

At their meeting Tuesday, the Pulaski County School Board approved a joint resolution with the Board of Supervisors in an effort to get out in front of the “police reform” issue and how it could possibly affect local schools.

According to the resolution, both boards “share concerns that rumors of contemplations being circulated concerning reducing or eliminating SRO’s in public schools in Virginia could become proposed legislation, which if passed and signed by the Governor, could restrict or eliminate our ability to fund, utilize, and enjoy the benefits gained from our current SRO program.”

“We therefore would oppose any such legislative action should it be presented and would communicate the same to the Governor and our General Assembly representatives,” the resolution states.

In reading from the resolution, School Superintendent Dr. Kevin Siers said both the “Pulaski County Board of Supervisors and the Pulaski County School Board recognize the value and importance of School Resource Officers (SRO’s) in Pulaski County Public Schools.”

“SRO’s provide many valuable and necessary functions for our schools.

“SRO’s help to promote and maintain a safe learning environment for our students and safe work environment for our faculty and staff in the schools.

“SRO’s help solve problems, address issues, give advice and guidance to our students, and are excellent role models for students to learn from and emulate.”

Siers continued that the Pulaski County Board of Supervisors and the School Board both “saw the value that SRO’s provided at Pulaski County High School, which was initially the only school in the county with an SRO, and worked hard to expand the program to provide an SRO for all of our county public schools.”

“The Pulaski County Board of Supervisors and the Pulaski County School Board,” he continued,  “gratefully acknowledge the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office for providing well-trained and highly qualified Sheriff’s deputies to serve as SRO’s in each of our county’s public schools.”

Siers, speaking for both boards said, “It is the desire and intent of the Pulaski County Board of Supervisors and the Pulaski County School Board to continue the SRO program in our public schools as it is currently with no reductions in funding, responsibility, or number of personnel.”

“We are so grateful for our SRO officers,” added School Board Chairman Tim Hurst.

“For years we were concerned about the need for SRO officers and safe schools in Pulaski County and that has not changed.”

Hurst credited the Sheriff’s Office for their assistance with the SRO program and added the school board “wholeheartedly supports the SRO program.”

By MIKE WILLIAMS, The Patriot