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Federal Education Funding Cuts Affect School Security

By: Brooks Jarosz Email
By: Brooks Jarosz Email

JACKSON COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Federal education funding cuts have had a negative effect on school security here at home. However, one county's school officials are taking it upon themselves to make sure kids and teachers are protected.

The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., has prompted schools nationwide to look at their own security and preparing for the unexpected to prevent any potential problems.

In Jackson County, the school system has experienced $56,000 in cuts at the middle school level for their prevention resource officers.

"Safety of students in schools should be a pretty big priority," Superintendent Blaine Hess said. "We like that these officers add that layer of security in our schools -- for our students in our schools and for our staff in schools."

"I'm going to make sure we have the resources to get extra officers in the schools to help the school administrators, students and teachers feel more at ease," Ravenswood Police Chief Lance Morrison said.

Previously, four grants at $28,000 each helped fund two middle schools and two high schools in Jackson County. The Board of Education has already forked over funds to have some part-time protection to keep the peace.

"I just hope nothing happens on the day he's not here," teacher James Hayman said. "I mean, you know if something's going to happen -- I want that officer here."

The proof is in the results. In March, a student at Ravenswood High School threatened to bring a gun to school and even targeted students. Those students went to their school's officer.

"Number one is the trust in the students, number two is the safety in the schools, number three is just the feeling of ease that comes over the school when the officer's there," Morrison said.

The high schools in Ripley and Ravenswood still have full time resource officers but the middle schools only have off-duty police officers on a part-time basis.

School administrators met with Jackson County Sheriff's deputies Tuesday to discuss plans and look at new ways to make sure students, teachers and staff are safe.

School officials are also hopeful the West Virginia legislature will push for additional funding to assist in school security.

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