Local, State Officials Will Meet To Discuss Ways To Improve School Security

By Emily Pace

Holly Carithers is learning from school officials that peace-of-mind comes at a price.

“I think we need to do what is best for our kids,” Carithers said.

Since the shooting inNewtown,Conn.that left 20 children dead, Carithers has been advocating for better security inAndersonCountyschools.

Right now, the county has resource officers working in only the middle and high schools, which isn’t good enough for Carithers.

“It can happen to the youngest of children,” Carithers said.

So the mother of three elementary-aged children has enlisted the help of an Upstate lawmaker.

Carithers says Rep. Don Bowen, R-Anderson, has proposed to eliminate the Anderson County Board of Education.

Its annual budget of about $700,000 would then be used to fund additional resource officers.

“About 75 percent of our operating budget goes right back into the schools,” said Administrator Joey Nimmers with the Anderson County Board of Education.

Nimmers says the board provides funding for essential services to all five of the county’s school districts, like mental health counseling, attendance tracking and food service management.

“I do think it would be somewhat short-sighted to break up what we have here,” Nimmers said.

It costs on average $50,000 a year per resource officer, according to Nimmers, and the board’s operating budget wouldn't cover that expense for every school.

Nimmers says even if it did, the districts would still have to come up with the money to continue the services the board of education is currently providing.

Carithers understands money is tight, but she wants school officials to remember that you can't put dollar amount on the life of a child.

Rep. Bowen released this statement Wednesday regarding his proposal:

“There are 86 districts in the state of S.C., and we only have three counties that have school boards that oversee multiple districts’ budgets.  The time has come to manage people's tax dollars in a much more responsible manner than we have in the past. 

The Anderson County Board of Education is funded at $700,000 each year, and they usually request more. We feel that these funds could be used in a more responsible way for the current economic conditions.  $700,000 would go a long way for providing security services in our elementary schools.”

Rep. Bowen will be in Anderson on Monday, Feb. 25 to discuss ways to improve school security.  The public invited to join him for an open-forum at the Ronald Townsend Building at 2404 N. Main St.  The meet will start at 5 p.m.

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