CUMBERLAND — The Allegany County Board of Education approved its $110 million 2014 budget at a meeting Tuesday with the condition that an additional $500,000 be requested of Allegany County for enhanced school security.
The board, which has expressed a desire to add five resource officers and two mental health professionals to its staff, is trying to secure the funds needed for the personnel.
The funding of “up to $500,000,” is to cover the cost associated with the added employees.
Allegany County Commission President Michael McKay, who holds an ex-officio seat on the school board, thanked the board for the request. The county commissioners must now deicide whether to supply all the funding or only a portion.
“Whether we want to, or not, it’s at our feet,” said board member Mike Llewellyn in a post-meeting interview.
Board members, along with county officials and members of law enforcement, have been discussing what they hope becomes a comprehensive school security plan.
The state of Maryland has announced it will make available $25 million in grants for school security for fiscal year 2014. However, the money, for which all 24 of the state’s school systems will vie, is for capital improvements like doorways, video cameras, vestibules, stronger glass and other physical improvements.
“This will be for personnel. The kids have to be kept safe,” said Llewellyn.
The request is for the $500,000 in funding to be done in a manner known as “outside of maintenance of effort.”
“If they fund it, they are not stuck with it forever,” said Llewellyn.
The method means that the funding will not be added to the county’s mandated, per pupil annual funding base.
Llewellyn said it gives the county the ability to decide each year to continue it or not.
“Staff is working on all kinds of different scenarios. It’s my hope that by the time we make a presentation to the county, we will have more information on the staff and what we think we can do,” said Llewellyn.
The five proposed county resource officers will help cover the outlying schools, according to officials.
Currently, four resource officers are utilized in Allegany County: two in the city, while Frostburg and the Alternative School in Eckhart have one each.
The two mental health professionals will help to identify acute mental health cases.
“We didn’t create the problem. The problem has come to us,” said Llewellyn.
Greg Larry can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org