House bill would make voters choose safety measures in schools


COLUMBUS — A bill that may be up for a vote soon in the Ohio House would put the decision of whether or not to have a school resource officer up to the voters in each school district.

House Bill 501 seeks to change Ohio law that the sponsors of the bill say doesn’t define “school safety and security,” though it does include mental health services, safety training and safety personnel.

School resource officers, which are typically certified law enforcement officers use through an agreement with the officer’s police or sheriff’s department, would be included in the “safety personnel” part of Ohio law, under the new bill.

If passed, the bill would leave that school safety and security definition up for voters by authorizing school boards to levy property tax “for the specific purpose of providing for SRO services, as opposed to safety and security in general,” according to an analysis of the bill by the Legislative Service Commission.

Municipalities and townships will also be able to levy property taxes “for the specific purpose of funding SRO services for school districts located within their territory” under the bill, according to the LSC.

The bill had its third hearing in House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday, with no testimony and not changes to the SRO part of the bill. Committee chair state Rep. Derrick Merrin said the bill may be voted on at the next committee meeting.

By Susan Tebben

Ohio Capital Journal

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.

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