Lisa Williams

Thomas County Schools Superintendent Dr. Lisa Williams

THOMASVILLE — Thomas County School System and county government funding resulted in more than doubling the number of school resource officers (SRO) in the school system.

Funding approved Tuesday in the county 2019 budget continues to help fund the additional officers, who are employees of the Thomas County Sheriff's Office.

"During the 2017-2018 school year, Thomas County Schools had three resource officers — one at Thomas County Central High School, one at Thomas County Middle School, and one who served Bishop Hall, the Renaissance Center (alternative school) and the Pathways Program," said Dr. Lisa Williams, county school superintendent.

Officers are now at Hand-In-Hand Primary School, Garrison-Pilcher Elementary School, Cross Creek Elementary School and Thomas County Middle School. Thomas County Central High School now has two officers. The Thomas County Board of Education campus, which houses Bishop Hall Charter School, the Renaissance Center and the Pathways Program, has one officer.

Said Williams, "These officers were added to provide heightened security at each campus in response to the increase of incidents at schools across the country."

The Thomas County Board of Education funded about 75 percent of the cost of the new officers in the board's 2018-2019 budget. The county commission approved an amendment in its 2018 budget to fund the remainder of the cost through the end of its 2018 budget year.

In the county's 2019 budget is continued funding for SROs through next year, Williams explained.

Williams said the SRO program has long been a partnership among the school system, the sheriff's office and the county commission.

The school board pays SROs' salaries during the months school is in session. County government pays the salaries when school is not in session. Training and equipment costs are covered primarily through the sheriff's office budget.

Information provided by the county commission shows the school district will compensate the sheriff's office for providing SRO services at $48,168 annually per SRO or an annual cost of $337,176.

Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820