Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

December 13, 2013

Commissioner questions SRO funding

By Gary Nelson
Senior staffwriter

CROSSVILLE — The county's schools and education committee will meet Thursday night after one county commissioner on the budget committee questioned the current status of funds being transferred from the school system to the sheriff's department to pay for School Resource Officers.

"What are we going to do about this SRO thing? This is still going on and has been months," Terry Carter, 6th District commissioner, said.

"As far as I know, it's in the hands of the schools and education committee and we're waiting for a recommendation from them," Harry Sabine, 1st District commissioner and budget committee chairman, said.

"We need to do something about this," Carter said.

"I'm assuming the officers are being paid, aren't they?" Sabine asked.

"They are and Butch (Burgess, Cumberland County sheriff) is absorbing the cost, so far. I believe the county attorney gave John Kinnunen (9th District commissioner and chairman of the schools and education committee) a copy of the draft of the (interlocal) agreement," Cumberland County Mayor Kenneth Carey Jr. said.

Bob Scarbrough, Cumberland County Board of Education chief financial officer, attended the meeting and said no funds have been transferred from the board of education.

"No transfer has been made that I'm aware of," Scarbrough said.

"I don't know of anything this committee can do as of now. Where do we stand on this?" Sabine asked.

Cumberland County Finance Director Nathan Brock said, "This group has already approved the necessary financial transaction to facilitate the transfer of funds. The full county commission tabled the resolution transferring the funds after a discussion was had regarding maintenance of effort requirements and wanted an interlocal agreement between the county, school system and sheriff that wouldn't bind the county in the future," Brock said.

Commissioners tabled taking action on a budget amendment resolution for the Cumberland County Board of Education transferring money from the BOE's budget to the sheriff's budget in order to fund School Resource Officers (SROs) after several questions arose among commissioners regarding the possible financial commitment that could be required from the county in the future. That was during September's monthly county commission meeting.

The amendment is for $233,828 and was budgeted by the BOE to go toward paying for SROs for the 2013-'14 school year. The amendment was approved county's budget committee in September.

There are four Cumberland County sheriff's deputies that are dividing duties between eight elementary schools. According to Burgess, those were road deputies who were placed in as SROs.

"There's not anything else this committee can do. It's already been approved here. We are waiting for the schools and education committee to make its recommendation to the full commission," Sabine said.

The schools and education committee will meet Thursday, Dec. 12, at 4:30 p.m. in the small courtroom at the Cumberland County Courthouse to discuss the three-party agreement.

The public is welcome to attend.