Christiansburg Town Council members will continue discussion of school resource officer (SRO) placement and funding to the town’s public schools located in town on July 6 during a work session meeting.
This is following the drafting of a contract, requested by the mayor, between the Sheriff Hank Partin and the Town of Christiansburg.
The mayor reopened the discussion of the placement of security resource officers in the Christiansburg town schools during Tuesday night’s regular meeting. This comes after the town council members had made the decision to no longer provide the financial support of the town’s school resource officers, beginning on July 1. Christiansburg Town Council has previously asserted the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors should pay for the town’s police officers that are currently in those positions in the schools.
“I think for the safety of our children, if the Board of Supervisors doesn’t want to help, we’re not going to let the safety and well-being, or I’m not willing to let the safety and well-being of our children, that attend these Christiansburg schools to be jeopardized,” Christiansburg Mayor Mike Barber said.
The council has maintained a position that they wished to keep the current town school resource officers in their current schools, with the county paying the $203,000 necessary to employ them.
“We asked them to fund our officers, not replace them, not take them out. It was just merely to fund these officers,” Council member Tim Wilson said.
Council member Henry Showalter emphasized that they are still hoping the supervisors will change their mind, but that the positions are not being defunded by the town of Christiansburg.
“We still have time for the supervisors to change their mind. In reference to the contract, I was surprised to get something like that,” Showalter said. “I’m curious to see who wrote it up. Chief [Mark Sisson], you worked with Hank on that but it’s to me very one-sided and it only has the sheriff’s signature.”
Showalter went on to say that the sheriff does not control the funding and that the contract would need to be reviewed with the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors and the Montgomery County Public School Board.
Council member Samuel Bishop had previously voted no to removing town SROs from the schools but expressed during the meeting that new information has now put him on the fence.
In reference to the proposed contract, Bishop said, “I guess if we put security officers in the schools this is how the agreement works?”
Mayor Michael Barber confirmed that he had instructed the chief to consider the contract as an “in case we do” need something for starting a back-and-forth conversation. The contract is not an agreement that they are putting resource officers back in those schools.
Following discussion, the council members voted in approval to table a decision to place SROs in the schools with the result of a 4-2 vote, with council members Tim Wilson and Casey Jenkins voting no.