NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Following the Covenant School mass shooting, lawmakers and other state leaders have tried to bring more attention to school safety, with ideological splits on how best to better protect the students in Tennessee schools.

Gov. Bill Lee announced a significant increase in funding for school safety programs like School Resource Officers, building security upgrades and a grant program for all schools, not just public schools, to use to upgrade their security measures.

Part of the pledge for the funding was to put an SRO in every public school in Tennessee, according to the governor.

One of the first schools to announce they would make the change to posting officers in every school in their district was Tullahoma City Schools.

Prior to April, the school system relied on a single stationed SRO at Tullahoma High School. No other school campuses had a posted officer or SRO, though the elementary schools participated in a program called “Adopt-A-Cop.” That program saw each elementary school “adopt” one officer of the Tullahoma Police Department at that school for the purpose of building relationships with Tullahoma children early in life and bridging the gap between residents and the police force.

Now, however, each school has a member of the Tullahoma Police Department stationed in each of its six school buildings.

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According to Director of Schools Dr. Catherine Stephens, she and Tullahoma Police Chief Jason Williams have had “ongoing conversations over the last few years” on how to expand the police presence in school buildings.

“We have taken great measures to enhance the security in and around our buildings,” she told News 2. “We have been part of the Adopt-A-Cop program and have routinely had law enforcement officials in our buildings; in addition to that program, our law enforcement partners have conducted threat assessments, intruder drills, walk-throughs, served as guest speakers, attended special events, and more. This appeared to be an appropriate time to place police officers in our buildings until the end of the school year.”

Because Tullahoma is a city school system, all SROs come from TPD rather than the Coffee County Sheriff’s Office. According to Stephens, Chief Williams will be presenting a budget request to the Tullahoma Board of Mayor and Aldermen for the upcoming year in order to fully staff the new roles.

In the meantime, Tullahoma City Schools has spent more than half a million dollars over the last two years improving security in every school.

“Since the 2020-2021 school year, TCS has spent $613,749.73 to ensure the safety and security of our campuses,” Stephens told News 2.

The upgrades included keypad entrances, protective window laminate, additional security cameras, alarmed/monitored security systems and walkie-talkies, she said.

Slightly north of Tullahoma, in Manchester, the Coffee County Sheriff’s Office provides one SRO for each of the nine schools in the district. No school has more than one SRO except on special occasions, large gatherings and special events, according to Chief Deputy Frank Watkins.

As with most sheriff’s departments, funding for SROs comes from the general budget, as SROs are sworn officers like other deputies. The sheriff’s department only had SROs placed in three schools until 2018—Coffee County Middle School, Coffee County Raider Academy and Coffee County Central High School. That year the department made good on a campaign promise from newly-elected Sheriff Chad Partin to add SROs in the remaining Coffee County schools that lacked one.

According to the adopted budget for 2023, Coffee County budgeted nearly $2.3 million for deputies.

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Another southern middle Tennessee community has had SROs in schools for a decade. According to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, the department has utilized SROs in all of its 11 schools since 2013. The two high schools in the county—Franklin County High School and Huntland High School—have two SROs assigned to them, according to Sgt. Samuel Davidson, the FCSO Public Information Officer.

Because SROs are sworn law enforcement officers, they are paid the same rate as regular patrolmen in the sheriff’s department, Davidson told News 2.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office was budgeted almost $4.6 million for the 2023 Fiscal Year, according to budget documents.

Further north, in Wilson County, the local school district has employed SROs in all schools since the early 2000s, making them “among the very first in the state to provide SRO program for schools,” according to Public Information Officer Bart Barker.

Last year, Wilson County budgeted more than $5.2 million for deputy pay, according to the budget document.