CULLMAN, Ala. – Members of the School Resource Officer (SRO) program governing board on Wednesday met for a special-called meeting to discuss program changes and where funds will be used in the school systems.
Back in May of this year, the Alabama Legislature passed legislation “to amend Section 45-22-81.01 of the Code of Alabama 1975, providing for additional court costs in the state courts and the City of Cullman Municipal Court, to reallocate the use of the funds for the school resource officer program; and to provide retroactive effect.” Essentially, the law was modified to align with the evolving roles and responsibilities of SROs, moving funds from D.A.R.E. to the SRO program.
According to Cullman Police Chief David Nassetta, the change was more about terminology and compliance with the law than introducing a new concept.
Nassetta explained the SRO program governing board’s primary function, which is to review and approve funding allocations. He said the distribution of funds is determined by the number of schools in the county and the city, ensuring fairness in resource allocation.
During the meeting, Cullman County Administrator John Bullard stated that one of primary changes discussed were related to the rotation of funding responsibility between the county and the city, and alterations in the disbursement method for funds based on per-child enrollment in participating schools. He said, “The way the disbursements are made, instead of $15 per child, that just says, based on the per-child enrollment in the school that participates in the SRO program.”
Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry addressed the board and explained that in the past, the money was used to send officers to programs like D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education). However, he said, D.A.R.E. has become less prominent in recent years, with new and more practical programs taking its place. The curriculum now encompasses a broader range of topics, such as anti-bullying initiatives and addressing issues like cyber bullying, adapting to the changing needs of students in the modern era. “There are other programs and other things and it allows us and the county to use for funds for more SRO-based training, even though it’s not necessarily related to D.A.R.E.,” Gentry explained.
The board approved the proposed changes and the motion was approved to officially set the start date for implementing the changes on Oct. 1.
According to the bill, the board is made up of:
- The Chair of the Cullman County Commission
- The Mayor of the City of Cullman
- The Sheriff of Cullman County
- The Chief of Police of the City of Cullman
- The Cullman County Schools Superintendent
- The Cullman City Schools Superintendent
- A seventh member to be appointed from the business sector and by approval of the other board members
Read the bill at https://legiscan.com/AL/text/HB481/2023.