In other news, the Town and the County have also come to an agreement on a point of contention: funding for School Resource Officers (SROs) in Leesburg's schools. The County provides SROs from the Sheriff's office to the schools in Loudoun County, except in Leesburg where the SROs come from the Leesburg Police Department. The Leesburg school SROs are funded largely by the Town of Leesburg, a de facto subsidy from the residents of the Town to the rest of the Couny.
In recent weeks, the Leesburg Town Council has pressed the Board of Supervisors to contribute about $160,000 more annually to fund SROs in Leesburg schools. The county government has traditionally given the town money to offset the cost of placing Leesburg Police officers in town schools, although council members were requesting that these funding levels equate to 70 percent of the total, or about $463,000.Councilmember Marty Martinez emailed me this morning to let me know that the Town and County have come to an agreement that will ensure that the County provide a more appropriate level of funding for SROs in Leesburg. As a result, the Town will be expending less of its own general fund budget on SROs in Leesburg schools, and that frees up general fund money for the R.O.C.K. program!
Council members have long stressed that this is one service the Leesburg Police Department can provide at a more affordable price than using the county deputies that are provided in other schools. On the flip side, if the county chose to staff the Leesburg schools with sheriff's deputies, the total price of the program would balloon to about $1.1 million annually, or $800,000 more than the county is contributing. - Leesburg Today
BOS approved full funding for SROs. This is great because it will give us the funding for R.O.C.K. The council is moving to do just that.It is inspiring to me to see our community come together to defend a program that does not serve the wealthy, or even the merely comfortable. It is inspiring to see the community come together not to defend a tax break for storm windows or complain about the placement of a traffic light, or a speed limit, but instead to speak out strongly and with one voice, for those who would otherwise have no voice.
It is important that council direct staff to re-instate those dollars and fully fund R.O.C.K.
And that it is important that we as a community understand the value of the program and would like to see it protected from future budget cuts. - Email from Councilman Marty Martinez (reprised with permission)
The R.O.C.K. program has no beneficiary with a right to vote, as it serves children from the communities with the least opportunities in Leesburg. But it had an eloquent champion who made her voice heard in spite of her disenfranchisement: Amira Bray.
Amira Bray held up a sign in Council Chambers proclaiming her love for the R.O.C.K. program. Her mother, Adrianne, said her daughter, a student at Ball's Bluff Elementary School, had been a participant in the program since she was five years old. Adrianne Bray noted that many of the students in the R.O.C.K. program have been recipients of Good Citizenship Awards at Ball's Bluff.We are stronger when we are connected as a community. Together programs like the R.O.C.K. and SROs are the left and right hand of community cohesion. The SROs provide a backstop against community destructive behavior among our young people in the schools, and the R.O.C.K. program provides those same kids with a path to enjoyment of the best opportunities our community can offer when the school day is done. By providing them both, Leesburg and Loudoun County say to our young people more than just "don't do that," but also, and more importantly, "you have the opportunity to do this!"
"She's found a way to connect with her peers and her community," she said of her daughter. "We're seeing changes in these children." - Leesburg Today
Let us all push to keep the R.O.C.K. program as fully funded as the SROs are, because neither one, alone, can provide the multiple, lasting, long-term benefits that they both provide, together. Because together, these programs knit us closer with all our neighbors as one Leesburg community.
(Incidentally, this post was originally title "R.O.C.K and SROll" but that was too awful, even for me.)