New police department for Muscogee Co. schools funded through 2019 district budget

New police department for Muscogee Co. schools funded through 2019 district budget
Updated: Jun. 25, 2018 at 11:54 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The Muscogee County School board moves into the new fiscal year by approving its latest multi-million-dollar budget.

The board set an expenditure budget of $295.6 million that won't just lead to a salary increase for teachers, but a step to protect campuses across the district with students as the main priority when it comes to security.

No members of the public gathered inside the boardroom raised concerns or asked questions once the Monday evening meeting began, prompting board chair Kia Chambers to move on to the matter of the final vote.

"We have met the requirement of having our public meetings, and now we are ready to vote on our general fund budget," she said to the crowd.

Board members themselves, for that matter, did not take much time to discuss the finer points of the plan.

Perhaps one question on some minds before the meeting, like those of board member Frank Myers - would the board ensure space in the 2019 fiscal year budget to create a security force protecting students district-wide from potential shooters?

"Unfortunately," Myers said, "these school shootings are going to continue. Let's hope they don't happen anywhere anybody hearing my voice is. But, they're going to continue to happen, it's part of our culture."

With little to no resistance, the board moved forward with the budget that sets aside $295.6 million in expenditures starting July 1 and ending June 30 next year.

Within the budget, $1.7 million will help fund a brand new Campus Police Department; an item that would have been a "make-or-break" issue for board members like Myers and John Thomas.

"We have funded the security force that we approved," Thomas said in discussion before the unanimous vote. "I think that I am going to vote 'Yes.'"

"We've got to be ready," Myers said. "It's just an extremely important issue."

As for other items the budget will help cover: $5 million will allow a two percent salary increase for all certified staff within the school district, while a separate $1.6 million will also cover a wage and salary increase for non-certified district staff.

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