Burchett says Knox school board should pay for security officers

Burchett says Knox school board should pay for security officers

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"It would seem to me that in an over $400 million budget, they could find this money," Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett said Thursday. "It would seem to me that in an over $400 million budget, they could find this money," Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett said Thursday.

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Knox County Mayor Burchett says the school board should cover the $219,000 for the cost of hiring and training security resource officers.

The school board should also pay the total $1.9 million cost for the officers, he says.

"It would seem to me that in an over $400 million budget, they could find this money," Burchett said Thursday.

Burchett says the school board has a rainy day fund of around $24 million and a $14 million surplus. Some of that money could be used to pay for beefed up school security.

"They need to pull the money from the surpluses they have instead of asking us to possibly raise taxes on the folks of Knox County," Burchett said.

Burchett added he worries the county will need to make cuts in different departments or implement a tax increase if the county is responsible for the bill. That's something he doesn't want to see happen.

County commissioners could give the school money from the county's rainy day fund, which amounts to about $45 million, according to Commissioner Richard Briggs.

Briggs says the commission doesn't typically like to dig into the reserve fund, but school safety is an exception and he expects the commission will approve the request.

"We have to put the safety of the students in our schools as the first priority," Briggs said.

Some parents have said despite a possible tax hike, the expense would be worth it.

"The safety of my child is probably the most important thing to me even if it does cost a tax increase," Margaret Barr said.

Others questioned whether the school should consider less expensive ways to protect the students.

"We'd have to look at all options," Jessica Biddle said.

Several members of the school board said they are currently working on the budget and held a meeting Thursday to get public input.

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