More officers in schools a good idea, but who pays for it? - - Columbia, South Carolina |

More officers in schools a good idea, but who pays for it?

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Almost seven months have passed since the shocking massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. Friday students and parents there began their first summer break since the shootings.

Shootings that led to a nationwide push for stronger school security, including many calls for armed personnel in every public school.

In South Carolina, the track record on that issue so far is spotty at best.

"Once you decide you're not going to arm school teachers, and put them in the position of being combat ready, then you fall back on professionals and that's really where it ought to be," said Jeff Moore with the South Carolina Sheriff's Association. "But it becomes a very expensive proposition to do it."

Moore said state lawmakers explored three major initiatives aimed at beefing up the ranks of school resource officers.

One would have established a special class of law enforcement officer to serve in schools with as little as two weeks training. That failed.

Bamberg Democrat Bakari Sellers said the state should fund armed police in every public school. But  funding is a major roadblock.

Moore estimates the startup cost for the program at $80 million in the first year alone.

A senate bill set the cost at half that amount.

A few school districts have since taken steps to boost the number of officers in elementary schools.  Lexington Richland Five, for example, is using a hike in business taxes to pay for the program.

But Moore said other districts might struggle.

Some school districts are taking matters into their own hands, coming up with money needed in at least one case through business tax increases to pay for officers in elementary schools.

And other districts and law enforcement agencies are using programs that allow officers to roam from school to school. That's happening in Richland Two and in Kershaw county, helping to keep schools safer without some of the high costs.

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