Colbert County Superintendent wants tax increase to improve school security

Colbert County School's Superintendent wants to see more funding to help improve school security at the districts eight schools.

Posted: Mar. 8, 2018 5:22 PM
Updated: Mar. 8, 2018 7:34 PM

Colbert County School's Superintendent wants to see more funding to help improve school security at the districts eight schools.

Colbert County School's only have three school resource officers that are in the high schools and the superintendent said if there was a property tax or sales tax increase they could use the funds to get more security cameras, and officers on campus to keep kids safe.

"We need to be ahead of the game of those who are anticipating doing something to our kids In the county," said Dr. Gale Satchel, the superintendent for Colbert County Schools.

Satchel took WAAY 31 to New Bethel Elementary School, which is 103 years old. Satchel said it wasn't built with safety in mind. At the main entrance you must push a button to be let in, but Satchel showed us how they need cameras and locks on exterior doors at New Bethel.

"We have exterior doors that are not protected. So if someone wanted to come into any of the other the exterior doors they could actually be in our school in 3 to 5 minutes before any of us knows about it," said Satchel.

Satchel told WAAY 31, they only have enough funding to have three school resource officers at the county's high schools, she said this puts rural schools like New Bethel in a bad situation.

"If my resource officer from Colbert Heights High School were to get here at New Bethel it would take him a minimum of 15 minutes. Most school shootings take less than seven minutes," said Satchel.

Satchel has spoken with the Colbert County Commission about a 5 million property tax increase, which would be voted on by the people of Colbert County. They have also discussed a half cent sales tax increase that could bring in less than $500,000 annually to help pay for more security measures at the schools.

"It is simply going to take taxes. I myself do not like tax, but I will pay for a tax to protect the boys and girls of this county," said Satchel.

Parents told us they would gladly pay for any tax increase to keep students safe by having more school resource officers, cameras, and locks.

"It's real important, very important," said Brannon Littrell, who has a child at New Bethel Elementary School. "When you drop your kids off you of course want them to come home like you dropped them off."

It would be up to the county commission to approve the sales tax increase and right now talks between the school system and the county commission are in the early stages. Stachel will go speak with commissioners in two weeks and show them how much security improvements could cost. Then the commission will have to decided on either taking the property tax increase to a vote of the people or working out details on the sales tax increase.

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