When I was in school, my dad used to tell me if my grades weren’t perfect, there wouldn’t be any sports at all. So, as I sat and listened to the Marshall County Commission meeting, I thought, if the county schools’ safety isn’t really “making the grade,” why is the school board spending one-red-cent on anything other than that?

Since I planned to attend the Marshall County School Board meeting the same day as the commission meeting, I decided to ask Superintendent Cindy Wigley. I asked her if the MCBOE did an energy-savings project, why did they spend that savings on a football field and not SROs back then?

This was her answer:

“We had part-time SROs at the time that covered all of the [schools],” Wigley said. “We had eight, plus a full-time, is what we had. BJ was the full-time, and then we had eight that were part-time that covered our schools. It was a patch. It wasn’t a best-case scenario, but that’s what we had.”

Then, Wigley said she couldn’t “hire personnel on a bond issue.” So, I asked if the MCBOE acquired a bond issue because of the energy-savings project. She said confirmed they were able to get the bond issue because of the savings from that project. She said the bond issue not only allowed them to build the football field at Asbury, but they were able to fix the roofs on the schools, put air conditioning units in three of the high school gyms and add a 10-classroom addition at Douglas High School to keep from having modular classrooms on that campus.

Even though Wigley gave an answer, which included an explanation of how complicated the MCBOE’s budget is, I still don’t see why the MCBOE hasn’t done more to help find a solution to the SRO issue before now.

I started at The Reporter a little more than a year ago, but not until recently have I seen the MCBOE at the Marshall County Commission meetings asking for help with SROs. So, why is safety important now, but not before? I still don’t have a clear answer for that. But, I do believe there shouldn’t be any more money going to anything, not even to the all-mighty football, until the SRO issue is resolved. I don’t believe it’s only up to the county commission to rescue the county schools, because the MCBOE needs to step up and make some big moves to ensure the safety of its faculty and students. Maybe the MCBOE should work on getting a specialty tag issued for purchase which would get more funds to the schools, like the Albertville City Schools Foundation recently did. That way teachers, faculty members, students and any person wanting to help support the county schools could buy it.

I’m all for the schools being safe, and SROs being in the schools. I don’t even mind paying extra for a vehicle tag, but who’s to say this time next year there won’t be another “hot topic” that needs to be funded for the schools? Will there be a countywide 1-cent sales tax added for the schools? I hope not, because we’re being taxed to death. If the county schools are so bad off, maybe the city school systems should just annex the county schools in with all of the businesses they’ve been annexing in. If not, then maybe we should start asking legislators the question of why there are so many school systems and see if their answers make us feel better about things. Either way, something has to be done, or we’re going to end up nickel-and-dimed until we’re all broke.

Nickie Simpson is a staff writer for The Reporter. She can be reached at nickie.simpson@sandmountainreporter.com.

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