published Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Greater Chattanooga area school officials call for more security

Mike Evatt, Chairman of the Hamilton County School Board
Mike Evatt, Chairman of the Hamilton County School Board
Photo by Alex Washburn /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Catoosa County Schools already have seven officers at its three middle schools, three high schools and its alternative school. But that leaves the county's 10 elementary schools with no SRO presence. The school district covers half the cost of the SROs, while the county and sheriff's office cover the other half.

If the feds make money available, Superintendent Denia Reese said the district would definitely be interested.

"Adding resource officers is a good solution," Reese said in a prepared statement.

In Hamilton County, the sheriff's office funds about 20 officers at middle and high schools. But not all middle and high schools have an officer and none of the county's 45 elementary schools has an SRO.

Board of Education Chairman Mike Evatt would "absolutely" be interested in pursuing any federal grants that were made available for more SROs.

"I would like to have an SRO at a minumum in every middle school and every high school," he said. "At some point in time, we've got to have that discussion."

The Hamilton County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations has voiced support for putting SROs in all county schools. But national PTA leadership on Wednesday came out against anyone -- including law enforcement -- carrying guns in schools.

National PTA President Betsy Landers, a Germantown, Tenn., mother, said the nation's priority should be protecting our children.

"To achieve this, National PTA believes schools also must be completely gun-free," Landers said in a statement.

about Kevin Hardy...

Kevin rejoined the Times Free Press in August 2011 as the Southeast Tennessee K-12 education reporter. He worked as an intern in 2009, covering the communities of Signal Mountain, Red Bank, Collegedale and Lookout Mountain, Tenn. A native Kansan, Kevin graduated with bachelor's degrees in journalism and sociology from the University of Kansas. After graduating, he worked as an education reporter in Hutchinson, Kan., for a year before coming back to Chattanooga. Honors include a ...

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