RICHMOND (AP) -- Newport News, Isle of Wight and Surry counties are among dozen localities in Virginia getting state grants to place school resource officers in public schools.
That recommendation was one of many made by the Governor's Taskforce on School and Campus Safety, convened after the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
Gov. Bob McDonnell said Monday that the Criminal Justice Services Board approved the matching grants. The funding will help pay for school resources officers' salaries and benefits.
The officers will be placed in a total 42 elementary, middle and high schools that don't currently have school resource officers.
In Isle of Wight, the officers will got into elementary schools; in Newport News and Surry County, the money will put officers in middle schools.
Michelle Price, spokeswoman for Newport News Public Schools, told WVEC.com, 'The grant will give the school district a full-time School Resource Officer (SRO) for Booker T. Washington Middle School. B.T. Washington Middle School did not have a full-time SRO assigned there. With this grant, all middle and high schools in Newport News Public Schools will have a SRO (a Newport News Police Officer) on duty daily.'
Officials with Isle of Wight County Schools says their Administrative Leadership team will work with their Crisis Management team to gauge the needs of the elementary schools to determine where SRO placement will take place.
A 13News investigation on a 2012 state School Safety Audit found 77% of all high school, 64% of middle schools and only 10% of Virginia elementary schools have security personnel present at all times during the regular school day.
In announcing the grants Monday, Governor McDonnell said, 'Creating a safe learning environment is paramount to insuring a high quality education. This is a vital part of our efforts to do everything we can to assure safe and secure schools for every Virginia student. We must continue to make it a priority to protect our children and those who have taken on the responsibility of caring for them while they are in the classrooms.'
Bristol, Buena Vista, Colonial Heights, Martinsville and Newport News
Towns and counties:
Amelia, Charles City, Grayson, Isle of Wight, Madison, Montgomery, New Kent, Page, Pittsylvania, Prince George, Pulaski, Richmond, Rockbridge, Russell, Smyth, Stafford, Surry, Tazewell, Warren