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      New option considered for schools to improve safety

      The Missouri House has passed a measure to allow schools to take one aspect of school security into their own hands. Some s chools are frustrated with the lack of funding for school resource officers. HB 152 , which is now in the hands of the senate, would allow local schools to hire their own.

      In Cole County, the sheriff's department provides school resource officers - one each to Blair Oaks, Eugene and Russellville. Blair Oaks Superintendent Jim Jones is pleased with the arrangement, and so is Sheriff Greg White. The funding comes from the county and all three schools.

      But the bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Sheila Solon sees the idea of having the officers work directly for the schools working well in her hometown of Blue Springs. That community wanted many more resource officers than the city and local law enforcement budgets could provide. In turn, a narrow state law allowed the district to hire its own, and Solon said the district now has more than a dozen officers.

      But White said he is skeptical that having a school district in charge of the officers is the best way to handle the needs. He said he believes local school districts will have trouble handling the paperwork, equipping, training and supervising of officers, and that there could be a conflict of interest.

      Solon said the bill requires a school district to have a memorandum of understanding with local law enforcement, assuring that they will work together.