Becky Birdsong

Becky Birdsong

The Geneva County School system is back to the drawing board trying to find the funds to maintain a school resource officer program after the Geneva County Commission came up $60,000 short on a previous $75,000 commitment to the school board.

In June, the county commission voted to contribute $15,000 toward the SRO program this year, with an additional $60,000 next year. However, after commissioners determined they would not be able to balance the county budget for 2019, they were unable to fulfill their promise for the SRO program.

The news came in a letter from chairman Fred Hamic to superintendent Becky Birdsong, along with a $15,000 check.

Birdsong said she was not forewarned the commission would pull funding from the program before hiring the six officers that now patrol each of the campuses.

The superintendent added that the officers will be compensated from existing funds, but that the commission’s failure to deliver the additional $60,000 puts the program at risk.

“I am disappointed, but I am still committed to doing what’s right for our students,” Birdsong said. “We don’t want parents to be concerned that this is going to make our schools less safe. I’m not saying we have the money now, but I am going to work on this and try to secure funding for this.”

The SRO program has been popular with residents, and Birdsong said she has already had parents asking how they can help maintain increased security on school campuses in the area.

In June, Birdsong expressed excitement after the commission voted to help fund the SRO program for Geneva County Schools. The passing vote was the final piece to a puzzle of funding that required the help of five separate organizations, she said.

Birdsong said finding the funds to maintain the SRO program next year is now her top priority.

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