CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Kanawha County Schools has proposed implementing a policy where armed security personnel are hired to patrol county elementary and middle schools.

The district’s excess levy will fund 12 positions. The hired on officers will rotate as the security at the different county elementary schools, as well as some middle schools. The officers will be armed with concealed weapons.

The Kanawha County Board of Education approved the first reading of the policy during a recent meeting.

General counsel Lindsey McIntosh said during that meeting that the sole purpose of the security officers is to protect those inside the buidling from anyone outside the building that is seeking to do harm to those inside.

“They are not to be acting as administration or for discipline in the building,” said McIntosh.

In order to become one of the 12 security officers, applicants must be a retired law enforcement officer with proper training and credentials in line with state code.

There’s nothing in state code at the moment that says school districts can’t hire armed security personnel. The Legislature has made attempts at passing bills relating to armed security at schools.

Kanawha County School Superintendent Tom Williams

Dr. Tom Williams

According to Kanawha County Schools Superintendent Dr. Tom Williams, the county’s Executive Director of Safety and Security Keith Vititoe will be the only one, other than top school personnel, to know where each armed security officer is on a daily basis. Vititoe said they’re trying to “make more of him.”

“Essentially, we’re making 12 more of me,” he said.

The goal was to have an officer for each school but that was not feasable. The program will cost about $1 million for the school district in the first year. Officers will be using their own personal vehicles and will be compensated for the mileage.

“We would love to have one for every school but we knew that financially that wouldn’t be possible,” Vititoe said.

The excess levy funds dedicated to the 12 positions won’t be ready until the start of the fiscal year which is July 1. Security officers could be placed in the schools as soon as next school year.

The additional security personnel will mostly take care of the school systems that don’t currently have a resource officer. All of the county’s high schools and a handful of middle schools already have resource officers.

Williams said the officers will be keeping more of a low profile while they’re patrolling the schools and will be rotating around to different schools each week.

“They won’t be in uniform or anything like that, they’ll be very low-key,” he said.

“If there is an elevated concern at a particular school, we will reassign them as necessary,” Vititoe added.

Vititoe and McIntosh collaborated to create the policy to try and enhance the security at the county’s schools. Further development on the proposed policy is expected in a board meeting coming up next month.