Grayson adding school resource officers

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By Larry Chambers, Staff

INDEPENDENCE — Grayson County schools will receive two additional school resource officers (SROs) after the Grayson County Sheriff’s Department received a grant from the state Criminal Justice Services Board.
Sheriff Richard Vaughan said full-time school resource officers would be added at Independence Middle School and Grayson Highlands School.
Vaughan said the county has full-time officers at Grayson County High School and Fries Middle School. Officers will split time with Fairview, Baywood and Independence elementary schools.
Gov. Bob McDonnell announced recently that 24 cities and counties will receive $1.3 million that he requested and the General Assembly approved earlier this year.
This was one of a series of recommendations from the governor’s Taskforce on School and Campus Safety convened after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
“Creating a safe learning environment is paramount to insuring a high quality education,” McDonnell said in announcing the funding. “This is a vital part of our efforts to do everything we can to assure safe and secure schools for every Virginia student. We must continue to make it a priority to protect our children and those who have taken on the responsibility of caring for them while they are in the classrooms.”
The SRO grants will provide funding for the salaries and benefits for school resource officers in 42 elementary, middle and high schools around the state that do not currently have an officer assigned there. Localities receiving grants will provide matching funds, with the amounts based on the Department of Education’s Composite Index of Local Ability-to-Pay.
A total of 37 localities across the Commonwealth submitted applications in response to the solicitation that was issued earlier this spring by the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). They requested more than $2.6 million in funding for 83 SROs.
Vaughan commended School Resource Officer Supervisor Sgt. Doug Carner and Administrative Assistant Karen Smith “for all their work on compiling the grant application.”
In addition to providing funding for these grants, the governor and members of the Virginia General Assembly worked together on a number of school and campus safety measures that McDonnell detailed at a legislative signing ceremony on June 5. They include: providing additional funds for security equipment in older schools; training for school personnel, first responders and others; and expanding mental health and crisis services.