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The School Resource Officer program resumes throughout Santa Maria Union High School District campuses

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Posted at 10:48 PM, Aug 24, 2023

SANTA MARIA, California (KSBY) - The Santa Maria Unified School District is teaming up with local law enforcement agencies to bring school resource officers back on campus.

The school resource officer program was cut at the end of 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and a staffing shortage.

The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District is hoping the new officers will enhance security, build relationships, and provide community outreach for their students.

Two local Santa Maria Police officers are taking on new roles as school resource officers in Santa Maria.

They are both local graduates from Pioneer Valley High School so they know the community well.

With the return of the program, the district is hoping that students will feel more comfortable sharing concerns with local authorities.

“Having supervision on campus. Making sure that our students are safe. Making sure students have a place to go with any concerns such as our wellness centers that we’ve just established,” said Steve Molina, Director of Student Services at the Santa Maria Joint Unified High School District.

Each of the officers cost $135,000 a year but the district says the cost is covered through LCAP funding, which goes directly to law enforcement agencies.

The district is always working to provide a safe environment for their students.

“They do have the philosophy of building relationships with students and staff and bringing them together and having a sense of connectiveness to our school district and what we’re all about is providing a safe environment to all of our students,” Molina said.

The Director of Student Services has also been working with the California Public Health Department on getting Narcan on campuses to help prevent drug overdoses on school grounds.

“If there’s any type of drug use found on campus, that helps with protecting the kids as well because there's been a lot [in the past] some overdose on campus, so I think it’s important that we have the police here to protect our kids from things like that,” said Christine Hernandez, a Santa Maria resident.

Each officer has an office on campus and students are encouraged to get familiar with the officers and where they're located in case they need any help in the future.

“That plays a critical role in what we're doing and how we're assisting students, so we're creating an environment that feels safe, connected and belonging to our school sites,” Molina said.

Officers will be located at Santa Maria and Pioneer Valley High Schools for now, while a sheriff’s deputy will be stationed on the Delta and Righetti campuses.

The resource officers are scheduled to be on campus during school hours.