STILLWATER, Okla. – Controversy is swirling around budget cuts in the Stillwater Public School District.
The district must cut $1.8 million of the $40 million budget due to state funding cuts, but administrators plan to chop a portion that parents are not okay with: security resource officers.
Parent William Henthorn said, “My child’s safety is number one to me.”
In this town, parents have seen tragedy unfold.
In 2012, 13-year-old Cade Poulos pulled a gun out in the junior high school and shot himself.
“That was terrible,” said Pamela Weaver.
So talk of taking that security away to save money is a sensitive subject.
Henthorn said, “Security cuts and endangerment of my child is not the answer.”
However, Assistant Superintendent Terry McCarty says due to legislative cuts to education, the district has to cut the $1.8 million for the 2014-2015 school year.
“It’s getting very, very difficult to find those numbers,” said McCarty.
Letting go of security resource officers, or SROs, will save the district $75,000 a year.
“I know it’s a very emotional issue,” said McCarty. “If it’s not the SROs, it’s more staff. Then, you start looking at getting close to students. You start looking at potential athletic cuts, activity cuts, classroom cuts. So we do our best to make sure we’re cutting some from this and some from this.”
It leaves parents thinking: just how important are the SROs?
“There some schools out there that are just awful that really need security they need more than security,” said Weaver. “So, I’m sorry. I’m okay with it because I’ve seen worse.”
“It’s a safer environment, but still,” said Henthorn. “There’s got to be other options. An increase in taxes. I don’t mind. Whatever it takes to keep my child safe.”
The district is working to create a new security plan for the schools.
Administrators are also compiling a list of items to cut in order to meet the budget shortfall.
We will keep you updated.