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Madison County offers funding for increased security in schools

Ellen Abbott
Madison County Sheriff Todd Hood, center, along with school and county officials, discuss funding for school patrol officers

School districts in Madison County are getting some help paying for security in school buildings.  The Madison County Board of Supervisors recently approved a budget that included enough money to pay for a school patrol officer in every district.

Funding for an armed officer is available for every school building in any district that wants it, according to Board of Supervisors Chair John Becker.

"Full cost of having a school patrol officer in a school is $37,000. Madison County is covering $18,000 of that while the school is responsible for the other $19,000," said Becker.

Some districts have already asked for more than one officer.

"Some of the schools, such as DeRuyter, everything is on one campus in the area so you’d need one person there," said Madison County Sheriff Todd Hood. "But other districts, like Chittenango/Sullivan, the high school is in Chittenango, and the elementary and middle schools are out in Sullivan. So there are different buildings and different campuses."

That’s a big chunk of the budget for a small district like DeRuyter, which currently has no school patrol officers. Beyond that, DeRuyter superintendent David Brown says it’s important because his district is remote, and it can take a while for police to respond to a call.

"It can take 20 minutes response time, it depends if there is someone in the area, near the area if and when we need assistance," said Brown.

A larger district like Chittenango already has an SPO in the high school, and wants to add them to middle and elementary buildings. Superintendent Michael Eiffe says these officers provide more than security. 

"Our current resource officer at the high school does a phenomenal job of actually partnering with the social worker at the high school and the guidance office to not only identify students in crisis, but we have protocols in place when it comes to crisis intervention and crisis assessment," said Eiffe.

Currently, six districts in the county have expressed interest in taking part in the program.  The Sheriff’s Department will hire and supervise the officers.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.