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South Summit celebrates school safety week, reckons with budget impacts of new safety law

Detective Wes Stewart (left) plays basketball with South Summit students.
South Summit School District
Detective Wes Stewart (left) plays basketball with South Summit students.

House Bill 84 requires South Summit School District, and all Utah schools, to rethink their safety measures.

Passed earlier this year, H.B. 84 requires armed protection in every Utah school.

A school resource officer (SRO), third-party security guard or volunteer “armed guardian”—which could be a trained school employee—could fill the position.

As South Summit School District Superintendent Greg Maughan explained on the “Local News Hour,” the district already has an SRO: Detective Wes Stewart, who started in January.

“We have an awesome SRO, certainly probably the best I've worked with—and I've worked with a lot,” Maughan said. “He does what, as a dad, I would hope he would do with kids. As a principal, I would hope that that's what an SRO would do. And as a superintendent, I'm excited to see that that's what's happening.”

At the April 17 Summit County Council Meeting, Sheriff Frank Smith called Maughan “forward-thinking” when it came to installing an SRO in the South Summit School District, in part because of H.B. 84.

Lawmakers didn’t cover the cost of new security for schools in the state’s budget, but the sheriff’s office and South Summit School District say they’ve worked out a deal to share the cost of their current SRO.

The North Summit and Park City school districts also have deputies in place. But they have multiple assignments and are paid only by the sheriff’s office.

All three school districts need to submit plans to hire more security staff to the state by the beginning of next year.

“[South Summit] started working on plans months ago, and we're continuing to do so,” Maughan said. “I'm hoping to have things done well before the January deadline.”

That’s partly because paying for the staff could hit the budget hard, and South Summit School District’s next fiscal year begins at the end of this school year. Maughan wants to know what budget impacts to expect.

The county council recognized Detective Stewart at its April 17 meeting. Maughan says he receives positive feedback from administrators, staff and parents about Stewart’s work.

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