HB 873 (Greenhalgh) as originally drafted would require every local school board to enter into a collaborative agreement with their corresponding local law-enforcement agency to employ at least one school resource officer in each public elementary and secondary school in the local school division. This bill is identical to SB 415 (DeSteph). Though not opposed to the policy intent of these bills VACo voiced concerns over these proposals based on the potential local fiscal impact. According to the Commission on Local Government’s local fiscal impact statement, most localities reported a large negative fiscal impact equivalent to the cost of hiring and training the additional full time employee (FTE) needed to meet the staffing ratios.
The bills would represent a recurring cost increase to these localities. Additionally, localities noted that the bills do not indicate if the staffing requirements would extend to all alternative and program sites that serve students; as such, some estimates include the costs of staffing those sites while others do not. Including these sites in the bill’s requirements would increase the fiscal impact on affected localities. For one locality, the estimated fiscal impact could range as high as $19 million.
SB 415 failed to report from the Senate Education and Health Committee by a vote of 4-11. However, when HB 873 was heard in the House Education Committee’s K-12 Subcommittee on February 7, the subcommittee recommend reporting the bill on a vote of 5-3. During testimony, the patron indicated that a substitute for the bill as it is currently written would be introduced. No written copy of the substitute was available for analysis or posted online. VACo staff spoke in opposition. Despite this, HB 873 was heard in the House Education Committee that same day and reported from committee and referred to the House Appropriations Committee by a vote of 12-10. As of this posting, the substitute language for this bill has not been posted.
VACo encourages members to oppose HB 873 in its current form, which would impose an unfunded mandate on localities not currently complying with the School Resource Officer staffing levels that would be required by this legislation. VACo will provide additional updates and the substitute language for the bill as it advances and becomes available.
VACo Contact: Jeremy R. Bennett