Social Circle school students will be seeing a new face in uniform helping them cross roads and stay safe.
The Social Circle City Schools Board of Education voted to have the Walton County Sheriff’s Office provide a school resource officer beginning in the 2014-2015 school year instead of the Social Circle Police Department (SCPD).
Although the SCPD had been providing an officer since 2005, when the department was formed, the school board voted against the Social Circle City Council’s recommendation to stay with them and raise the reimbursement rate.
SCPD asked for an increase to $36,000 from $16,000 in reimbursement to have an officer at the middle and high school, while Walton County will charge $43,000.
“They offer us a lot more than what the city can offer, and that’s just due to size and personnel,” said Todd McGhee, Social Circle City School superintendent.
During the regular school year, the Sheriff’s Office will provide a school resource officer, a school investigation officer, supervising officers and drug education program officers.
McGhee said board member had been taking multiple complaints from parents and concerned citizens about traffic near the schools and dangerous intersections.
Social Circle Mayor Hal Dally said as the fiscal year just began, it had been approved to add one more person to account for the school resource officer, but the person who was to fill that role will continue the job of a police officer.
“No one is losing a job,” Dally said.
SCPD has two uniformed officers on duty for 12-hour shifts, and they were also using an officer at schools in the mornings and afternoons to act as a crossing guard.
Terry Sosebee, police chief for Social Circle, said the school board had the option to use an officer from SCPD, from Walton County or from a self-created and funded school police department.
“There’s real advantages to being involved in the program and involved in the community. The school resource officer makes a lot of contacts we wouldn’t make otherwise,” Sosebee said.
He said the transition from the city to the county department is neither positive nor negative, that it was just something that needed to be figured out.
“I’m sure the Sheriff’s Office will do quite well,” Sosebee said, “and we will definitely be there to support them and the school system with anything that may happen in the future.”