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BY EMILY MONTGOMERY
Legislation proposed that would mandate school resource officers in every public school in Virginia would require more than 80 new positions in the greater Fredericksburg area at a cost of more than $8 million its first year.
Most localities already have resource officers stationed in their high schools and some in middle schools, but under the bill would have to hire officers for elementary schools.
This cost could fluctuate depending on many factors, such as whether buildings that house multiple schools would need as many officers. It also assumes that these positions would necessitate new hires.
The calculation includes the salary, benefits, equipment, training and vehicles needed for new employees.
There are several bills mandating resource officers in each school, including one introduced by Del. Mark Cole, R-Spotsylvania. Similar bills filed in the Senate by Sens. Richard Stuart, R-Stafford and Creigh Deeds, D-Bath County were killed yesterday in the Senate Finance Committee.
Cole's bill has not been acted on in the House.
The fiscal impact report of Cole's bill, prepared by the state's Department of Planning and Budget, says that 1,046 new officers would need to be hired. It estimates the cost in the first year at $133.9 million, with subsequent annual costs being about $72.2 million, not including costs for training and supervisor positions, which would add about $400,000.
The report states that currently the average state share of the cost for public education is about 55 percent, though this varies significantly by locality. If this were to continue, the state share of officer costs would be about $73.6 million the first year.
The area positions are spread between Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania County, Stafford County, Caroline County, King George County, Culpeper, Orange County, Louisa County, Fauquier County and Colonial Beach.
This cost would go down substantially after the first year, because it would no longer include money for training, vehicles and equipment.
Here are the cost estimates for new officers in the Fredericksburg area:
Spotsylvania County: 17 officers for a total of $1.5 million, according to Capt. Jeff Pearce.
Stafford County: 21 people at $129,740 per person, totaling $2.7 million, according to Public Information Officer Bill Kennedy.
Fauquier County: 14 positions, including one supervisor position, for a total of $1.5 to $2 million, according to Lt. James Hartman
Fredericksburg: Four school officers at $70,000 each, and two cars to be shared between the officers at $32,000 each, totaling $344,000, according to Fredericksburg Public Information Officer Natatia Bledsoe.
Caroline County: Four positions at for a total of $440,000. Superintendent Greg Killough said that this cost would be split between the police department and school board.
King George County: Four positions for a total of $380,000, according to Sheriff Steve Dempsey.
Orange County: Six new positions totaling $600,000, according to information from Gene Kotulka, director of student services, and Sheriff Mark Amos.
Louisa County: Three positions at $75,000 each, coming to $225,000, according to Maj. Donald Lowe.
Colonial Beach: Two new positions at about $58,000 each, coming to $116,000, according to Interim Chief of Police Bill Seay.
Westmoreland: Public officials did not return calls for information.