Just a week after Student Resource Officers discovered a Mt. Juliet High School student had weapons on school campus, the Wilson County Board of Education voted Sept. 6 to pay half the salary of an additional SRO to be placed at Gladeville Elementary.
The board voted 4-1 in favor of adding the SRO with Zone 4 member Ron Britt voting against the measure. Mike Davis, director of schools, said the county Law Enforcement Committee voted against the idea 5-2 in their last meeting.
Were putting the safety of our kids on the back-burner, said Greg Lasater, Zone 5 board member.
Lasater pointed out that no K-5 elementary in the county has an SRO and said all of the schools should have those officers to keep students safe. Lasater pointed out that recently Gladeville has had several incidents where it was placed on lockdown, one of which involved a police chase in the area of two robbery suspects.
Zone 1 board member Vikki Adkins pointed out that Gladeville is unique compared to other county K-5 elementary schools because it is not located within a close proximity to law enforcement offices. Response times to the school in case of an emergency would be much longer than at the other schools.
Mt. Juliet Elementary has the Mt. Juliet Police Department, so does W.A. Wright, Lakeview is close by, Adkins said.
Britt pointed out that he polled many school systems near Wilson County and said only one, Rutherford County, has SROs at its K-5 elementary schools. Lasater replied that Rutherford County has 41 schools and 40 SROs.
He said his objection to voting for this measure was because the Law Enforcement Committee had already indicated the county would not pay for the other half of the officers salary.
I have a problem voting for something thats dead-ended, Britt said.
The salary would be $60,000 for one year, to be funded through the Education Jobs Program Grant for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. Davis said the money would no longer be available after June 30, 2012.
He also pointed out the school board has no authority to dictate where the SRO would be placed, as the officer would be employed by the Wilson County Sheriffs Department. Davis did say that Sheriff Terry Ashe agreed the officer would be placed at Gladeville Elementary.
Also during the meeting, the board approved selling property where its Bus Maintenance Facility is located to Custom Packaging Inc. and purchasing new property for a new maintenance facility.
The existing facility is behind Custom Packaging on 204 McCowan Drive and would be sold for $675,000.
The board voted 4-1 with Britt opposing to authorize the sale of the property. Custom Packaging offered to buy the property in order to expand its facilities. The board also approved the purchase of a new facility on Maddox-Simpson Parkway in a 4-1 vote with Britt opposing.
Before this came along we were not looking for a new facility, Britt said, pointing out the $350,000 difference in the sale price of the old facility and purchase price of a new facility.
The new maintenance facility is owned by Rollins Leasing LLC, and the property could be purchased for $875,000. Davis said moving everything from the old facility to the new one would cost about $150,000 more.
This would meet the needs of the school system for the next 25 to 30 years, Davis said.
The $350,000 difference between the two prices would come from the school boards fund balance and County Attorney Mike Jennings said the purchase of the new facility would be contingent on selling the old.
Don Weathers, Zone 3 board member, asked to have the $150,000 in transition costs be pulled from the measure and have it bid to see if the move can be completed more cheaply.
We have plenty of time and I want to know what its going to take, Weathers said.
During the meeting, Roger Perry, head football coach at Mt. Juliet High School, and Mel Brown, principal of MJHS, asked the boards approval to begin raising funds through the schools booster club to construct a new weight room.
Perry said the existing weight room was too small to accommodate the 125 football players and that they also do not have enough locker space for the players. Perry proposed turning the old weight room into a Junior Varsity locker room once the new weight room is built.
We have growing pains and in our football program we dont have enough lockers, Perry said.
The project would not require any money from the school board, but would be built on donations alone. Perry indicated an individual had already donated $100,000 to get the project underway. The board unanimously approved the request to raise they money.
By PATRICK HALL, The Wilson Post
Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at email@example.com.