One week after student Kendrick Castillo lost his life and eight other students were injured in a shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch, Douglas County commissioners unanimously voted to redirect $10 million toward school safety.
At a meeting Monday night, commissioners said the county will have extra property tax revenue from 2018 due to increases in property values that they will use to replenish the redirected funds, according to The Denver Channel.
“I am very pleased that we have the school board here. I have been working closely with Superintendent [Thomas] Tucker to start working with him on how we would make Douglas County Schools safe and do it together,” Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said at the meeting.
Prior to the meeting, hundreds of people signed up to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting. Students, parents and concerned citizens urged for more mental health support, heightened security measures such as metal detectors, and more school resource officers.
Spurlock noted at the meeting that there is currently one school resource officer protecting more than 3,000 students at two high schools when it is recommended by the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) that districts have one SRO for every 1,000 students.
During last week’s shooting, an SRO was not on duty due to a disagreement between the school and the sheriff’s department on the duties of an SRO and their pay. A private security guard was on duty instead.
Lieutenant Lori Bonner with the sheriff’s office said SROs are “much more than just a gun walking around.”
“They are part of the school community. They are friends, they are family,” she said. “That school, those students, are part of their heart and their soul.”
Senior Anna Keesen said she didn’t know the answer, but she believes students need more education about mental health and managing stress, reports the Littleton Independent.
“What to do when everything seems to fall apart,” she said.
The commissioners are set to meet again on May 28 to formally discuss how the money will be spent.
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