Keeping Kids Safe and Saving Money | News, Sports, Jobs | #schoolsaftey

Student safety is paramount among our local schools, yet it’s also important for elected officials to be good stewards of public funds. Ohio County Schools was able to take care of both at its Monday meeting.

The district recently learned through discussions with Ohio County government that, if the school district wanted to keep using Ohio County Sheriff’s deputies as prevention resource officers, the price tag would increase to $84,500 per deputy. Assistant Superintendent Rick Jones said that would be an increase of around 40% of the previous cost.

Ohio County deputies recently received a 23% across-the-board raise and the cost to the schools reflected that increase.

The Ohio County Board of Education voted against renewing that contract at that amount and agreed to look at other ways of providing PROs to the county’s schools. The district will continue contracting with the Wheeling Police Department, and will also look at hiring retired officers to serve in the role.

It is good to see the school district and school board thinking creatively to solve that conundrum. The easy route would have been to shrug their shoulders, bite the bullet and approve the increase, chalking it up to the cost of doing business. Instead, they remembered their responsibility to the taxpayers to make prudent, cost-effective decisions.

Hiring retired officers as PROs is among those prudent decisions. Doing so puts veteran officers in schools. It serves as a great opportunity for those retired officers who still want to serve the community to do so by protecting and counseling the county’s youth.

It also allows law enforcement agencies to redirect their personnel to other parts of the community like road patrols. Those agencies, which continue to look for new officers to fill their rosters, already are stretched thin. A move like this would allow for even more effective policing.

Ohio County Sheriff’s Office representatives at Monday’s school board meeting said they hoped to revisit the issue somewhere down the line. But as an immediate solution, Ohio County Schools looks like it found a good one.

It’s an answer that should keep our county’s students safe as they learn and grow. It also keeps our county’s taxpayers in mind in finding a solution that doesn’t bust the budget.

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