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Year after Sandy Hook shooting, local schools getting money for SROs

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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- New Hanover and Brunswick County Schools should soon get state money for more resource officers.

It's part of $7 million legislators allocated in this year's state budget. Counties must match one dollar for every two from the state.

The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut almost a year ago prompted North Carolina lawmakers to earmark the money for school resource officers.

"I think all of us would say we feel much safer, and we know that it's just one person, but we also know there job and their job description is to make our school safe and and so they have helped us with that," said Retha Rusk, principal at Lincoln Elementary School in Leland.

New Hanover County asked for eight school resource officers. Brunswick County wanted four. Both requests are expected to be approved.

Rusk says having a permanent SRO in her school has helped strengthen relationships with students and staff.

"He also interacts with our children," Rusk said. "There is lunch with them sometimes in the cafeteria or he will go out on the playground or just doing programs he is a presence."

Brunswick County School Board Chair and Chief Sheriff's Deputy Charlie Miller says after the shootings at Sandy Hook, school administrators and the sheriff talked about ways to improve school safety.

"We changed our schedule back, and that freed up about a million dollars to help pay for the SROs," Miller said. "So when we received the grant funds yesterday, that really helped lessen the blow on the pocketbooks of us."

Miller says if children can't learn in a safe environment then they don't need to be at school.

Right now Brunswick County has a school resource officer in every elementary, middle and high school. New Hanover County currently has SROs in every middle and high school.

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