Christiansburg votes to suspend SRO funding for MCPS schools in town limits

Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 5:31 PM EST
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CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Christiansburg Town Council will cut funding to its school resource officer program July 1.

The town wants Montgomery County to fund these positions, saying the schools are Montgomery County property, despite their location within Christiansburg town limits.

“Everybody here wants a resource officer in there but we owe it to our citizens and fiscally, to be fiscal minded, to at least put this motion on the table,” Christiansburg Vice Mayor Henry Showalter said during Tuesday’s council meeting.

The motion passed on a 4-3 vote. Now, if school resource officers are to remain in the Montgomery County Public Schools within Christiansburg town limits, it’s up to the the county’s board of supervisors.

“I think our board is shocked and disappointed,” Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors Sherri Blevins said. “Safety is always a great concern for us.”

Blevins says the town’s decision caught the board off guard.

“We haven’t even had an opportunity to meet or discuss this new development, but moving forward, I have confidence that our board will continue to serve our citizens in the best interests of our citizens.”

In a statement to WDBJ7, the Town of Christiansburg says this decision gives the county six months to plan and budget for SROs for all its county and town public schools.

The statement also says Christiansburg Town Council previously requested Montgomery County leaders to fund these positions, but the request was denied.

All Montgomery County Public Schools currently have SROs. There are Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputies in the schools located in the non-incorporated parts of the county, Christiansburg Police officers in the schools in MCPS Christiansburg’s town limits and Blacksburg Police officers in the MCPS schools within Blacksburg’s town limits.

“They own those schools,” Christiansburg Mayor Mike Barber said during Tuesday’s council meeting. “It’s the county’s responsibility to do this. If there’s something that goes on over there we will respond to it.”

Ideally, the town would like a reimbursement of $265,000 to keep Christiansburg Police officers in the schools. WDBJ7 is also told that Christiansburg is in the process of drafting a formal letter to the county to inform them of the vote.

“Personally, as a person that has advocated most of my life, for law enforcement, the positive relationships with law enforcement, and have fought and advocated for school safety, I’m extremely disappointed, but I will continue to work to keep our schools safe,” Blevins said.

Blevins says conversations about how to proceed will take place as soon as possible.

Right now the county has $575,071 budgeted for 8 SROs and the starting salary and benefits package for one of these positions is $67,664 dollars.