School safety committee approves resolution

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By Donna Thornton/News Editor
   
A committee examining ways to improve school safety approved a resolution last week asking the Etowah County Commission to use its authority to impose a 1 percent sales tax in Etowah County to fund school resource officers, additional security cameras and other security measures at all schools in Etowah County, public and private.

The School Safety and Security Committee, appointed by State Rep. Craig Ford, includes school superintendents, educators, students, law enforcement officers, students and members of the community at large. Members have met in general and in subcommittee meetings in recent weeks, and have come up with a number of recommendations to make schools safer.

As the draft of the resolution approved Feb. 8 states, the committee concluded, “the immediate and only solution to attain necessary school safety and security is additional revenue …”

The resolution will call upon the commission to assess the additional one cent in sales tax countywide, including the municipalities in the county.  While a final draft of the resolution was not available, changes were discussed in the meeting that would include wording of support for other measures to generate additional revenue for school security, such as a referendum for ad valorem tax.

The resolution states that the funds collected shall be used exclusively for school safety and security purposes, and that it would “sunset” six years from its effective date.

The resolution recommends using 50 percent of the money collected for current expenditures, with 50 percent to be escrowed with interest only used to continue maintenance, policies and procedures initiated by the tax.

The resolution also expresses trust that municipalities presently providing school resource officers and other security measure would not use these funds to supplant their efforts and expenditures. Some cities in the county provide one or more schools in their area with a resource officer.

Chairman Ralph Burke said when a final draft of the resolution is complete a request to be on the commission’s agenda will be made and the resolution will be presented to them.

He urged all committee members to be present at that meeting if possible to show commission members that the request come from a cross-section of county residents with varies experience.

Burke said committee members will need to be spokespersons in the community for the plan to make all area schools safter.

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