Local officials are finding themselves scrounging, hoping to find enough funds to keep an incredibly valuable program operating in some of our area schools.
We are speaking, of course, about the Prevention Resource Officer (of PRO) program, which places law enforcement officers in schools as a way to provide safety and security for students.
When it was started in West Virginia, grants provided by the state covered all of the costs. As it has progressed, however, funding has been reduced bit by bit, and we fear it will eventually get to a point where local entities will have to provide the entire balance if they want to keep the program.
This year, Hancock County was informed it would be receiving only $40,000 for its grant, leaving it to request support from the county's board of education and other sources to fund the remainder. This funding goes toward stationing a sheriff's deputy at Oak Glen High and Middle and a Weirton police officer at Weir High and Middle.
Brooke County officials have been finding themselves in a similar position, not only looking for local matching funds, but also reducing the number of sheriff's deputies it uses by having one at Brooke High and a second splitting time between Follansbee and Wellsburg middle schools.
This is a valuable service to our schools and communities, and we would hate to see it come to an end.
These officers not only provide an extra measure of safety for our students, but also someone students can speak to for help or if they suspect something wrong is taking place.
We urge state officials to do what they can to find additional funding and make sure it can continue for many years to come.