Greater Chattanooga area school officials call for more security

Greater Chattanooga area school officials call for more security

January 17th, 2013 by Kevin Hardy in Local Regional News

Mike Evatt, Chairman of the Hamilton County School Board

Photo by Alex Washburn/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.