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Several Charlotte-area school districts qualify to get more state funding for school resource officers

The state’s new budget nearly doubled the number of matching funds available to hire SROs.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — More money for School Resource Officers is coming to low-income school districts in the Charlotte area. North Carolina's new budget nearly doubled the number of matching funds available to hire SROs

At least nine school districts in our area qualify as low wealth by a state formula. The budget for the state’s school resource officer-specific program goes from $18 million to  $33 million.

“All of that will be handled through the Department of Public Instruction Center for Safer Schools," Rep. John Torbett said. 

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Representative John Torbett, a Republican from Gaston County, chairs the North Carolina House Education Committee

"Not to say that our schools weren't safe, but just to be there to aid and assist from the state level on needs they may not be able to address themselves, such as some of the more rural counties couldn't afford SROs," Gaston said. 

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School districts currently use local, federal and state dollars to fund their SROs.

Starting this year, the low-income districts can apply for a grant that gives it $4 for every $1 spent in non-state funds for an SRO. Previously all districts regardless of their wealth status only received $2 for every $1 spent in non-state funds. 

WCNC Charlotte is always asking "where's the money?" If you need help, reach out to WCNC Charlotte by emailing money@wcnc.com.

If SROs cost a district $500,000 a year, and it earmarked $100,000 in local or federal funds, the state would pick up the rest of the tab.  

"We're hoping with this funding will come real close to having an SRO in every school in North Carolina," Torbett said. 

A spokesperson from Burke County Public Schools, which qualifies, said the district is meeting with county commissioners, the sheriff's office and public safety to talk about the opportunity. 

"This is only for low-wealth counties," Hugh Hattabaugh, CMS Interim Superintendent said at a meeting this week. "This does not include Charlotte-Mecklenburg. So we are not classified in that area, and will not benefit by this provision." 

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, whose wealth ranking is double the low-ranking standard, can still benefit -- only not quite as much.

Districts that are not considered low wealth can still apply for the SRO grants, but they will only be matched $2 for every $1 they spend in non-state funds. 

Contact Shamarria Morrison at smorrison@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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