Of all the support staff public schools make available to teachers, the most appreciated in many cases are "resource officers." They are trained law enforcement officers whose beats are school hallways and classrooms.
Marshall County Board of Education members are considering what the county calls a "prevention resource officer" for Sherrard Middle School. The matter is expected to be on the agenda for the next school board meeting.
County school Superintendent Fred Renzella explained the cost of an officer for the school would be about $46,000 a year. Marshall County commissioners have agreed to cover about one-fourth of that, he added.
In some districts, especially those in big cities, it is virtually impossible to operate schools without law enforcement officers present. Thank heaven schools in the Northern Panhandle and East Ohio are nowhere near that level of lawlessness.
Here, resource officers typically are used to reinforce educators' authority. They may break up a fight here, pull an unruly student out of a class there. Often their mere presence makes school environments more conducive to learning. One invaluable service resource officers can provide is to help crack down on bullying.
The value of resource officers extends off school grounds, too. By opening lines of communications with young people, officers can become aware of problems out in the community, such as illegal drug dealing.
Again, virtually every school in the Ohio Valley is safe from problems such as widespread drug dealing and violence, sometimes targeted against teachers, that plague some schools in other areas. Yet even here, resource officers can make schools safer, better places for young people to learn.
If it is financially practical, then, Marshall County Board of Education members should approve hiring a resource officer for Sherrard Middle School.