Bedford County Board of Commissioners, meeting Tuesday night, formally approved the placement of sheriff's deputies in local schools, which began on Monday, for 40 days while the county studies the best long-term approach to school security.
A study committee will be appointed, and a consultant from the Tennessee Risk Management Pool, the county's insurance carrier, will be asked for input in the long term.
The interim plan uses regular patrol officers during what would normally be their off-duty week. Patrol officers work a seven-days-on, seven-days-off schedule. They'll have to be paid overtime for hours worked in the schools during their off-duty weeks.
The 40-day interim plan will cost about $60,000. Bedford County Financial Management Committee, meeting last month, discussed hiring School Resource Officers for all of the schools that don't yet have them -- at a total cost of $257,572.
SROs are specially-trained law enforcement officers who provide security but also participate in teaching safety curriculum, talking to individual students, and so on.
But a funding source would have to be found for hiring new SROs.
At this point, the only available revenue sources are non-recurring one-time revenue, and so any officers hired using those funds would have to be considered temporary employees until a more permanent solution were found.
Even if funding is approved, it would take weeks or months to hire and properly train SROs.
A threat was made against Thomas Magnet School last month during the same week as the Connecticut school shooting which again focused national attention on the issue of school security.
The public high schools outside Shelbyville city limits -- and Harris Middle and Central High inside the city -- have student resource officers. The officers are Bedford County deputies assigned full-time to each school during the school year.
It's the schools without SROs that are getting the regular sheriff's deputies during this interim period.
SROs are assigned to Community High School and to the building which houses Cascade High School and Cascade Middle School, although in both cases they're in proximity to nearby elementary schools. Cascade Elementary is next door to Cascade High School; Community Elementary and Community Middle are only a short distance away from Community High School.
In other discussion Tuesday night:
l The commission approved budget amendments for the county and for the school system.
l The commission approved the transfer of $84,000 out of the county's capital projects fund to pay the salaries of interim school superintendents Mike Bone and Ed Gray. The two former superintendents are sharing responsibilities for a 120-day contract while the school board searches for a successor to Ray Butrum, who left office Nov. 1.
l The commission reappointed Bob Davis, Bill Lewis and Jean Harrison to their seats on the Solid Waste Authority board; appointed Michael Simons to a fifth district seat on the Bedford County Agriculture and Education Center board; and reappointed Bobby Fox, Kim Neeley and Debbie Crosslin to the Bedford County University of Tennessee Extension committee.
The commission deferred action on a first district vacancy on Bedford County Planning Commission; a potential nominee is still considering whether to accept the position.
l The commission approved a surplus property declaration from the county school system and from the school maintenance department.