Ky. Bill Requiring On-Site School Resource Officers Approved By House Committee | In depth

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) – School districts in Kentucky will have to consult with the state’s Marshal of School Safety if they cannot have resource officers on every campus under a bill passed Tuesday. by the House Education Committee.

House Bill 63, sponsored by Louisville Republican Kevin Bratcher, passed the committee by a 16-3 vote. Democrats Tina Bojanowski, Attica Scott and Lisa Willner, all of Louisville, voted against the bill.

The legislation provides school districts with “more guidance” on the Safe and Resilient Schools Act, which directs school districts to assign at least one armed school resource officer to each school, Bratcher said. The intent of this law, he said, was to have school resource officers inside schools.

School districts would be required to report to the Kentucky School Safety Marshal if they cannot have officers on every campus and develop plans to address these shortages under HB 63.

Rep. Tina Bojanowski, D-Louisville, said she believes HB 63 is “directly” targeting Jefferson County Public Schools, which have been without resource officers since the 2019-20 school year. The Jefferson County School Board passed a $7.3 million safety plan by unanimous vote Jan. 27. A team of 30 armed security guards patrol schools in geographic areas primarily from their vehicles.

HB 63 could significantly increase the scope of the JCPS security plan, which Bratcher called a “great first step”, over time. Bratcher acknowledged that districts are struggling to find enough officers to cover each school and to find enough money to pay them.

Funding for school resource officers will come from district coffers “unless the district cannot afford it,” Bratcher said.

“They go to the (school safety marshal) and they come up with a plan to get them there, and if they can’t get there, they can’t get there,” Bratcher said. “This is not an unfunded warrant.”

Forty-three percent of Kentucky schools had school resource officers assigned to them, according to the 2020-21 Annual Report of the Office of Kentucky School Security Marshal Ben Wilcox.

This story will be updated.

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