By Wayne Gates
A 1.95 mill countywide levy for school safety is one step closer to the ballot.
All five school districts in the county have opted to participate in the Brown County School Financing District that will administer the estimated $1.6 million dollars that will be raised annually if the levy passes.
The money will be returned to the school districts at approximately $215 per enrolled student to be used for resource officers, mental health counselors and physical school security improvements. Other uses could include staff training and cameras in the buildings.
Each district will be able to use the money as they see fit.
Because the ESC client districts have property taxes coming from surrounding counties as well as Brown County, the levy will have to be certified by the auditors of Brown, Clermont, Highland, Clinton and Adams counties.
Once that takes place, the ESC board will meet again on August 2 to vote whether to send the levy to a countywide vote in the November 6 election.
BCESC Superintendent Jim Frazier said that the money needed by a levy isa sign of the times.
“Our mission is educating young people. It never was about staffing police. The monies that we spend to educate young people is being used to keep them safe. That can’t be sustained over the long haul.”
Frazier added that there are many security needs that can be addressed with the levy funds.
“Many of our schools don’t have resource officers. They don’t have secure entrances or secure windows or up to date camera systems. The need is pretty significant, and that need can’t be met by downgrading our primary mission, which is education,” he said.
Board member Bryan Mount said that worrying about security should not be something that those in classrooms should be responsible for.
“Students and teachers should not have to be concerned about their safety while they are trying to learn. For some kids, school is the only time during the day when they are in a safe and secure location,” he said.
The levy vote in November will be countywide, which means that even if the levy is voted down within a particular district, it will still go into effect with a majority vote within the county.