MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - County Commissioners approved more resource officers at Madison County Schools thanks to some resourceful funding. The goal -- to keep your kids safe. Sounds like a win-win, right? Well, we learned Wednesday, it depends on who you ask.
Commissioners approved Sheriff Blake Dorning's idea to fund three additional school resource officers for county schools with county pistol permit revenues. A kick in from District 4 Commissioner Phil Vandiver's discretionary fund brings the total to 4 new officers to cover Buckhorn, Monvrovia, Sparkman and Meridianville middle schools.
Before salaries of about $41,000 on average were covered for 10 months by the school system and 2 months by the sheriff's department. 3 of the new salaries will now be covered solely by permit funds.
"Officers are housed at a school but they also cover a field. So we have 28 schools and 8 SROs so they still have to cover more than where they're at, but now we've almost doubled our coverage, so it's very exciting," says Madison County Schools Superintendent Matt Massey.
Doubling the law enforcement coverage at county schools -- sounds all well and good, right? Well, even that wasn't good enough for one commissioner, who says taxpayers shouldn't be satisfied either.
"That just doesn't resonate with me why we can't find the money out of the whole budget that we provide for the schools, that we can't find enough money for adequate resource officers," said Commissioner Bob Harrison.
Harrison says there's no excuse for some large high schools to go without coverage and essentially took the superintendent to task during the commission meeting about why his board couldn't properly allocate county funding. But keep in mind: all 3 systems in Madison County share state tax revenue allocations. Unlike county systems, city school systems have municipal funds to supplement in addition to mayors and city council members to advocate for school funding.
"We have no supplemental funds on that, so it's tens of millions of dollars difference a year," Massey explained.
Be that as it may, Harrison still suggested the system keep trying to stow away county funds for safety's sake.
In considering the county school system's dependence on county funding, it's important to note 3 out of the 6 districts lie entirely within Huntsville or Madison city limits. So, nearly half of the commissioners have no constituents attending Madison County Schools.