WALHALLA GA Nov 4 2016 — Discussion about how to fund new security for Oconee County elementary schools is still a week away, but county officials floated two possibilities Tuesday for what role the new security officers will take.
Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw said one possibility involved having teachers who are also certified deputies, with duties involving mentoring as well as the teaching of anti-drug classes and other related subjects.
This would build on the mentoring and drug education role of the single Sheriff’s Office deputy now assigned to the county’s 10 public elementary schools, he said. The second is to have new officers designated school resource officers, the system used at the county’s public middle schools and high schools.
The decision would be based on how the School District of Oconee County wishes to approach the matter and how any cost-sharing between the county and the school district is arranged, Crenshaw said.
One concern he said he has is the chain of command if a teacher is a certified deputy. The key issue was a certified deputy in a law enforcement role over which he as sheriff might not have total authority.
"My preference would be for SROs," Crenshaw said.
Oconee County Council Chairman Paul Cain said the council will discuss the additional security and its financing at the Nov. 8 council meeting.
Cain said he and Councilman Wayne McCall had already conducted meetings with school officials to discuss the possible options.
The council has proposed the hiring up to nine new officers to provide security at each of the county’s 10 elementary schools as well as the Eagle Ridge charter school in Salem and the private Oconee Christian Academy.
The first-year cost of each new hire has been estimated at about $90,000, for a total of $810,000.
The school district trustees voted last month to fund two additional resource officers specifically for elementary schools.
The move by the Sheriff’s Office, the County Council and the school board comes after concerns expressed by parents following the shooting in September at Townville Elementary School in Anderson County near the Oconee County line.
The shooting, which authorities said is believed to have been committed by an Anderson County 14-year-old who is alleged to have also killed his father, claimed the life of one student and wounded three others.