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January 9, 2013

Bill seeks to put more police in schools


> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Locally speaking

Though the legislation hasn’t pushed its way through to law yet, school district officials in Southern Indiana have already shown some interest in taking advantage of grant funding for school resource officers.

In the wake of the shooting in Newtown, Conn., districts in Clark and Floyd counties have responded by addressing specific security concerns in their own schools.

Andrew Melin, superintendent of Greater Clark County Schools, said there are a few resource officers in his district — two at Jeffersonville High School, two at Charlestown High School and one at New Washington High School — but he’s open to the idea of bringing more on board.

“I think it’s something we have to consider,” Melin said. “I think student safety has to be our top priority. I know that our financial circumstances are such that we need to be very cautious, but I think that you have to first and foremost consider student safety and we have to look at the possibilities.”

He said if more grant funding became available they could pay for the full cost of another officer elsewhere in the district, perhaps at Charlestown.

John Reed, assistant superintendent for West Clark Community Schools, said in the midst of evaluating their policies and facilities, additional grant funding could help them out.

“Whatever we utilize as afar as funding from the state or anything we pursue, we want to make sure there are good, sound reasons for doing it and that it will achieve what our goals for safety actually are,” Reed said.

He said there aren’t any hard set plans to hire additional officers right now, but they’re working to find other ways to make their schools more secure.

“We hired an agency to come in and study our schools and give us some suggestions as far as safety is concerned,” Reed said. “It’s something we’re taking very seriously and it’s ongoing, so we don’t have any conclusions to give.”

In Clarksville Community Schools, a school resource officer was just approved by the district’s board of trustees. The officer from Clarksville Police will work in all three of the corporation’s schools.

Kim Knott, superintendent, said if the grant funding bill passed, they’ll have to look at the details of the law before they decide how or if to pursue funding.

“Clearly, if the bill passes, we would look at any grant funding,” Knott said. “I would say that for us to move forward on our plans to bring a resource officer on board in Clarksville Schools will not be predicated on that bill passing and those grant dollars becoming available.”

She said depending on how the grant is written, the timeframe the funding is available and whether the funds are recurring will all weigh in to how the district would use the funding if the law was passed.

Bill Briscoe, assistant superintendent for the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp., said since the legislation is still pending, it’s too early for NA-FC officials to comment on whether they’d use the funding. But he said officials continue to meet about ways to improve safety in its schools.

Staff Writer Jerod Clapp contributed to this story


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