PSRC boosts SRO presence and adds safety features to schools

LUMBERTON — Robeson County Public Schools will hire seven more school resource officers next year and use enhanced security entry systems at schools in the district.

The district will employ the school resource officers full-time and cover their salaries and benefits for a total cost of $455,000, according to a school district news release. The Robeson County Sheriff’s Office will cover all other necessary expenses, such as their vehicle, uniform, and firearm.

Six School Resource Officers will split their time covering multiple elementary schools. An additional School Resource Officer will be placed at Purnell Swett High School, bringing the high school’s total to three. The third officer will be added due to increased high school enrollment.

As cases of gun violence across the country have increased in recent months, district leaders believe additional measures are needed to protect students and staff at Robeson County Public Schools.

“We recognize that recent tragedies that have occurred have brought the issue of school safety to the forefront of everyone’s mind. We want to assure our parents and stakeholders that the Robeson County Public Schools are a safe place for students to learn and grow,” Superintendent Freddie Williamson said.

“Hiring additional School Resource Officers and ensuring that all of our schools have proper security and surveillance in place are simple solutions to letting our parents know that their student will be safe when they enter our buildings. schools,” added Williamson.

The need to hire more SROs has been discussed for years, according to PSRC communications director Gordon Burnette.

“Thanks to the ESSER funds, we now have sufficient funding in our financial budget to support such an initiative. This is a significant investment in our district, but you can’t put a price tag on providing our students with the safe learning environment they deserve,” Burnette said.

The National Association of School Resource Officers suggests that school districts have one ORS per 1,000 students.

Robeson County Public Schools will have 31 school resource officers for approximately 20,500 students after the additional officers are hired.

“The goals of well-founded SRO programs include providing safe learning environments in our nation’s school, providing valuable resources to school staff members, fostering positive relationships with young people, developing strategies for addressing programs affecting youth and protecting all students so they can reach their fullest potentials,” according to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

Improved security systems

Robeson County Public Schools also emphasizes school safety by providing safety equipment throughout the district, including CCTV systems and “buzzer” entry systems in all schools.

The systems will help secure all buildings and allow office staff to see campus access points at all times.

Some new systems will be purchased, while existing security equipment at other schools in the district has been found to be in good working order after a thorough inspection by the PSRC’s technology department.

“As district leaders, our responsibility is to provide our students with a safe and conducive learning environment,” said Bobby Locklear, Assistant Superintendent of Auxiliary Services.

Norma A. Roth