Mayor Greg Fischer spoke to clients and staff of a senior nutrition site at the Kling Center in March. | Photo by Joe Sonka

Mayor Greg Fischer is recommending Louisville pull its school resource officers from Jefferson County schools as the city tackles a $35 million budget shortfall.

The majority of the district’s SROs — police officers contracted to nearly 30 district schools as security — are contracted from Louisville Metro Police. The 17 LMPD officers assigned to schools would be reassigned to street patrol under Fischer’s budget proposal, announced Thursday.

It confirms the fears of some in the district, who thought the budget cuts would make future contracts with LMPD and other agencies “prohibitively expensive.” It is unclear whether smaller police agencies will follow suit.

Fischer already canceled incoming LMPD recruiting classes to save money, creating a need for current officers to patrol.

JCPS is slated to vote on its budget May 14 — over a month before Louisville’s budget will play out. Without changes to the proposal or JCPS’ own budget, the district could see a gap in security for the coming school year.

“We are exploring what options we have available to us as we look at ways to support the schools that have LMPD SROs,” JCPS spokeswoman Renee Murphy said.

SRO contracts run through the current school year and are typically renewed in August. An in-house security team — an idea JCPS has tossed around for months — would not be able to come to fruition in time, Superintendent Marty Pollio said Tuesday.

The district’s in-house team idea is not listed as a JCPS budget priority, despite recent questions about it from school board members in budget work sessions.

Fischer’s proposal is only the first step in deciding what to cut from the city’s $653 million budget to cover rising pension costs. The Metro Council will likely adjust the budget in the coming weeks before a final vote on June 25.

JCPS’ $1.7 billion budget is separate from the city’s, but some programs like the SROs are tied to the metro government.

Amidst building concerns over the role of police in schools, JCPS has been considering ending the SRO contracts on its own. An in-house security team would replace the officers and seems to have support from the school board.

Under the developing plan, the in-house team would report to JCPS — not an outside agency. The change would increase accountability, supporters say. It would also cost millions more to the district.

Key details of the plan, including whether security would be armed or have arrest powers, were not publicized before the district decided to delay the team’s creation for at least a year. At the earliest, the team could be created in time for the 2020-21 school year.

Olivia Krauth
Krauth reports on education in Louisville, including JCPS, the University of Louisville and state policy.Before joining Insider Louisville, she covered technology and business as a reporter at TechRepublic. She also spent time on the data team at the Austin American-Statesman in Texas as a Dow Jones intern.Krauth graduated from UofL, where she was an award-winning editor of The Louisville Cardinal and obtained a degree in investigative journalism with a minor in Russian studies.Email Olivia at [email protected]