KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – When classes in Knox County Schools start on Monday, the district will have more school security officers than ever before thanks to nearly $5 million in additional funding. More officers is just one of several changes students, faculty and families can expect as part of the district’s new ‘Safe Schools, Safe Students’ initiative.

Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jon Rysewyk, Chief of School Security Chief Jason Periard, Knox County Sheriff Tom Spangler and Knoxville Chief of Police Paul Noel held a press conference Friday to detail some of the new safety measures.

“Student safety is our most important responsibility, and I am very thankful that the Board of Education, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, and Knox County Commission approved $4.7 million in additional funding for school security this year,” Rysewyk said.

Knox County Schools will start the year with the most School Safety Officers than in any year in recent history. The additional funding will allow the district to add 22 positions to the Security Division. Still, the district is looking to recruit more SSOs with a focus on military veterans.

Rysewyk said the recently created Talent Acquisition team will focus on actively increasing the district’s recruitment of military veterans, and he is proposing an extension of paid military leave that would provide up to 30 days of military leave time for SSOs or other employees who are serving as reservists.

In addition to more School Resource Officers, Security Chief Periard said the district has upgraded school video systems and implemented a new tip line that will be monitored seven days a week.

Upgraded body cameras for school security officers and an integrated visitor screening system are among the other new developments for the academic year.

Students and parents can report any suspicious activity by calling KCS Security at 865-594-3624 or text knoxschools to 274637.

“We believe keeping eyes and ears on all of our schools and these systems will make sure we don’t miss the nuisances threats that might occur around the peripheral of our schools, ” Periard said.

Knoxville Police will be patrolling to watch for speeding and other violations in school zones and around buses.

“From a law enforcement perspective, we have a duty to ensure that students, faculty and staff our protected at school also coming and leaving school as well,” Chief Noel said.

Rysewyk also announced that he has asked the Knox County Sheriff’s Office and Knoxville Police Department to provide an annual audit of the district’s school safety plan. Deputies and officers from those two agencies serve as School Resource Officers in many district schools, supplementing the work of SSOs.

While school district security and law enforcement shared several items to increase safety, Sheriff Tom Spangler said they can’t share everything but he having everyone involved in student safety on the same page is a big part to protecting those students.

“Our partnership is paramount,” Spangler said. “To make sure were in contact with each other and making sure if we have any issues or concerns that were sitting down and make sure we work those things out.”

Visit for more information on safety initiatives.