LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- The start of school is just two weeks away as JCPS students and teachers scramble to get ready for the new school year. But school officials are also keeping busy working out how to keep students and staff safe.
"We were thrown a little bit of a curveball about going down in SROs this year, which we really weren't expecting until late spring," JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio said.
Pollio and JCPS learned a few months earlier the school district would lose 17 of its 28 school resource offices, as LMPD will be pulling its officers from schools due to the city budget cuts.
Pollio said he wants to create a new JCPS school security force that will not rely on contracts with local law enforcement agencies. He said he hopes to recruit veteran or retired law enforceent officers.
Under the proposed plan, which was introduced before the school board Monday afternoon, JCPS will continue its current contracts with other local agencies for the upcoming school year and will convert nine school security guards to school resource officers serving 18 middle and high schools to replace the former LMPD officers. In January 2020, JCPS would then hire and train seven more SROs.
JCPS would then hire 40 additional SROs for the 2020-2021 school year, which would cost around $4 million, though Pollio said it would only be about $3.3 million in new money as JCPS would no longer have contracts with outside agencies.
Another issue raised by the school board concerns whether the officers would be armed. Alex Payne, the commissioner of the state Department of Criminal Justice Training, said he would believe they would be as all school resource officers who undergo the required training do carry firearms while on the job. He said he does not know of any SROs in the state of Kentucky that are not armed while at work.
"What is the right tool at the right time? That firearm is one of those tools," he said
JCPS's general counsel said it is possible for the board to set the district policy on whether officers will be armed or how they will dress.
Not everyone is thrilled with the idea of a security force. Carla Wallace with Showing Up for Racial Justice said she fears a police force in schools will unfairly target some students by criminalizing what could otherwise be seen as bad behavior.
"It's not about SROs being bad people. That's not what it is," she said. "It's about an educational system that punishes disproportionately based on race, sexual orientation, identity, immigrant status."
JCPS still needs to vote on the proposal before it is passed.
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