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Tight budgets mean SROs aren't feasible for all districts

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Tight budgets mean SROs aren't feasible for all districts
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For years, schools have faced tough choices when it comes to crafting annual budgets. One security feature also regularly finds its fate up for debate. Sarah Blazonis has more on the role school resource officers play in districts and whether the Sandy Hook shootings have some districts reconsidering adding the officers to their communities.

ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- For about ten years, a school resource officer patrolled the halls of the Tully Central School District.

"He was a New York State Trooper. He was loved by our students, by our staff, by our community. Then New York State pulled the funding out for it," said Tully Superintendent Kraig Pritts.

The State of New York Police Juvenile Officers Association says it's an issue being faced statewide.

"As budgets shrink and as money gets tighter, schools are faced with the decision: Do they cut a teacher or do they cut a resource officer in the building?" said the association's executive director, William Aiello.

"If we were to fund a school resource officer our self with no other changes to our program, we would exceed the two percent tax cap," said Pritts.

Officers are armed and trained in school security. But they also act as mentors. It's a benefit the Fayetteville-Manlius School District has seen since its resource officer came on the job, thanks to community demand this September.

"He's able to talk to the students about how serious an impact this may have on their lives. So the issue isn't so much how much less, but what it is we're doing about this," said Fayetteville-Manlius School District Superintendent Corliss Kaiser.

Tully's superintendent says he's had discussions with parents since the Sandy Hook shootings about possibly looking into getting an SRO, but he's uncertain how effective an officer would be in a similar situation.

"I don't believe that a school resource officer would have made a difference in Newtown, either. An assault weapon is a pretty hard thing to combat," Pritts said.

Others say they could play a key role in curbing School violence.

"Funding is important, keeping our officers trained is important, and being proactive and not reactive is an important item," said Aiello.

The Juvenile Officers Association trains officers to work in schools. Its executive director says training sessions have steadily decreased during the past five years. The group used to hold two annual training sessions of about 30 officers each. They're now down to one group of 15 officers per year.

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