PHOENIX — The Arizona State Board of Education voted Friday to approve funding for resource officers, counselors, and social workers for nearly 400 schools across the state. The money is part of the expanded school safety grant program, which jumped to $32 million in funding from $12 million.
Wilson Elementary School in Phoenix wasn't initially on the list to have its resource officer position reinstated.
Principal Cindy Campton said the Arizona Republic published a story on the matter, and Governor Doug Ducey noticed. Ducey wrote a letter to the Arizona Board of Education asking it to add Wilson Elementary to its list of recipients.
"We didn't see our name on the list, and we thought, oh no, it's not going to happen," Campton said early Friday afternoon.
After learning they were added to the list, Campton called it, "the best Christmas present we could've received.
"The legislature expanded the state's school safety program earlier this year.
"We know that all schools across the state of Arizona have needs," said Callie Kozlak, Associate Superintendent for Policy and Government Relations at Arizona Department of Education.
Kozlak said ADE used a fair and transparent process to decide where the funding was needed.
Campton said she believes having an officer on campus deters crime not only at the school but also in the neighborhood.
"It's a positive environment, and it makes everyone feel safer because you have a police officer here," she said.
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman released this statement after the vote:
“It is an incredible step in the right direction to fund 383 new school safety positions across the state. From my conversations at schools and given the vast number of applications we were unable to fund, I know that as a state, we still have more work to do. Every school in our state has safety needs, and every student deserves access to mental health supports. Providing more funding to address these critical needs must be our top priority during the next legislative session. I want to thank the legislature, Governor Ducey and his team for their support throughout this process and for prioritizing school safety as much as I do. Together we can make certain that every school has the resources they need to keep students safe and meet their social-emotional needs.”