A former educator turned circuit court clerk has crafted a plan that could pay for increased security in Anderson County schools at a cost to criminals.
It started as an idea back in October for Tyler Mayes, the Anderson County circuit court clerk, when he realized a similar fee already in place, which pays for the security cameras and metal detectors in the courthouses, could help local schools, too.
"It was just an idea for them to work on," said Mayes. "It's clearly not a tax. A: I'm not in a position to do that, and B: I have no intent because I don't want to have to pay more taxes. My taxes just went up today on my payroll."
Under the proposed "school security" fee, defendants found guilty of crimes in Anderson County would pay an additional $2 in court costs.
Several school board members, including Dail Cantrell, said they agreed with Mayes' proposal.
"Speaking as a father and as a school board member, I think it's a great idea to throw as much of the burden on the criminals," said Cantrell. "I think here in this system, we have safe schools. The problem that we run into is the nut, the guy that gets the automatic weapon with no desire except to kill."
Cantrell said metal detectors are not the feasible solution, since each would cost about $10,000, and many schools have multiple entrances. Anderson County High School would require nearly 30, and there are 17 other schools in the county.
"Studies have showed that having an armed presence in the school system is least disruptive and provides the greatest amount of safety for the students," said Cantrell.
Both high schools in the county currently have two school resource officers, along with another that rotates among various schools.
"The middle schools and elementary schools share resource officers with other schools, where they're kind of on the road. So, what's being talked about is having one resource officer at all of the schools, all of the time," said Cantrell.
If that was to happen, additional funding would be required.
Cantrell said each officer costs around $55,000 per year. With 18 schools, that would total nearly $1 million. Mayes said the current courtroom security fee account only had a balance of $167,000 as of Thursday.
"It's a start," said Cantrell.
"My daughter, when she gets of school age, I want to make sure that wherever I send her to school, I want to make sure she's safe," said Mayes. "Any way that I can help, whether it's with this fee, I will."