HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Horry County Council members say when it comes to budget cuts, a lot of things are still on the table, including discussions about scaling back on school resource officers.
The topic arose during the Horry County council budget retreat last week. Council members say the group was listed on the staff's "not recommended" list, but it is not out of the realm of possibilities.
"Right now, it is not in the budget. It's just one of those things that is out there and there's a whole laundry list of things," explained Horry County Councilman Gary Loftus. "That budget is a long way from being final, so there are certain things we have to do and there are other things we want to do. Now we have to separate the needs from the wants."
"That's just one of hundreds of things we are discussing," said Horry County Councilman Howard Barnard. "Nothing is final yet."
The county employs 16 school resource officers at the middle and high school levels. Half of the officer's salary is paid for by the Horry County School District and the other half is paid for by the county. If the county were to remove these officers, they could save nearly $500,000.
"You're saving $500,000 at what cost?" questioned Nada Couture, a parent with two children in the Horry County School District. "The cost of the parents, the children, and the staff feeling safe - I think we need that type of presence in our schools."
James Bradley, the executive director of student affairs for Horry County schools, says SROs are an "invaluable asset" to the school district. With bullying, drugs, and sexting now just one of several problems school officials are now dealing with, Bradley says SROs are able to be an extra set of eyes and ears.
"To be a successful school, you have to satisfy the safety needs," Bradley said. "The compliment and they help us with creating a great school environment."
The Horry County budget must be finalized by this June.