COLUMBIA, S.C. - It could cost up to $60 million to put an armed police officer in every one of South Carolina's nearly 1,200 public elementary, middle and high schools because nearly half the school don't currently have one.
Gov. Henry McMaster said at a school safety summit that he wants an armed officer on every school campus before he would consider whether to arm teachers.
The state Education Department told The State newspaper that 607 of South Carolina's 1,195 public schools have armed officers on campus.
It costs around $110,000 to hire and train an officer the first year, the agency said, leading to a price tag of up to $60 million to get officers into every school. The cost would drop to closer to $40 million the next year.
McMaster's budget plan he gave lawmakers asked for an additional $5 million for school police officers, but it was made before the Feb. 14 school shooting in Florida that killed 14 students and three staff members.
On Thursday, McMaster said he is willing to spend what is needed to get armed officers into every school, and he wants to do that before considering whether to allow teachers to have guns.
"The first is arming not the teachers, but the certified law enforcement officers," McMaster said. "A teacher - or most school personnel - does not have the kind of experience, the kind of relationships and connections with law enforcement that a trained officer would."
State Superintendent Molly Spearman said she wants officers in every school, too. She also wants more mental health counselors in schools and have buildings designed to be safer.
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