FORT WALTON BEACH — The Okaloosa County School Board voted Monday to contribute just over $1 million to help cover the costs of keeping deputies at all schools in the district.
A divided board opted to increase its portion from $609,896 by $500,000 with the caveat it would be the final year money not acquired through the Safe School fund will go toward the school resource officers.
“I’m willing to give the $500,000 ... if everybody understands this is nonrecurring money and we don’t have the money to do it next year,” said vice-chairwoman Cindy Frakes.
The additional funding will come from money in the district’s general fund reserves and it will be added to money allocated to the district from the state through the Safe School fund, according to Rita Scallan, the chief financial officer for the district.
“Reserves are one-time sources of funds ... so what that means is there’s not a sustainable source of revenue to continue until another year,” Scallan said.
Sheriff Larry Ashley, who attended the meeting, nodded when board members emphasized it was one-time funding and said that he would have to find a recurring revenue source to cover the cost difference in the future.
Monday night’s decision marks the second time the board voted to designate additional funding for SROs. They also provided money during last school year after Ashley put SROs into all schools following the deadly Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn.
Board member Melissa Thrush voted against the additional funding but not because she doesn’t believe SROs are important in schools, she said.
“I do not believe we should be using nonrecurring reserve funds to purchase SROs,” Thrush said.
Board member Cathy Thigpen was absent from the meeting.
Even with the additional funding, the district will not be covering even half of the cost of 40 deputies placed around the county.
In the past, the district has covered half the cost of SROs in its schools.
When Thrush pointed out the $1.1 million didn’t actually cover half the costs, board chairman Rodney Walker said that Ashley had committed to covering the difference in funding so no school would go without a deputy.
“Mr. Ashley will pick up the slack,” Walker said.