Arizona Department of Education redirects grant funds to hire armed officers on every campus

According to Superintendent Tom Horne, $60 million of grant funds will go toward school resource officers.
Published: Feb. 11, 2023 at 8:07 PM MST|Updated: Feb. 12, 2023 at 2:03 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Arizona state superintendent Tom Horne announced his number one priority this week: An armed officer at every school. “We need to have somebody who can shoot back. There are no massacres at police stations because they know they can defend themselves,” said Horne.

Horne referenced the deadly tragedy at a school in Uvalde, Texas, last year. He said he didn’t want to see something like that happen in Arizona. “If, god forbid, there is an attack and kids are killed, the parents will never recover. Those parents in Texas will never recover.”

A move like this comes at a cost, specifically with a grant which lets schools hire either a counselor or a police officer. Horne said if a school does not have an officer, they can only use that grant to get one. This grant is $90 million in total. Broken down, according to Horne, $30 million will go towards renewing the councilor contracts hired under the previous grant, and the remaining $60 million will go towards school resource officers.

“The decision should be left to the local school districts and their governing boards because they know their communities best,” said Devin Del Palacio, a Tolleson USHD board member. Del Palacio has some concerns with this grant change. His district currently has an officer at every campus, but he feels councilors are also key in preventing issues before they happen. “For us, we need counselors to help students get through those difficult moments in their life is more important than adding law enforcement to our campuses.”

According to the American School Counselor Association, Arizona has the second worst ratio in the nation when it comes to students and counselors, at 651 students for every counselor.