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'A guitar case with guns made it into the school': DougCo commissioners allocate $10M toward school safety

In a direct response to the STEM shooting, the Board of Douglas Co. Commissioners spokesperson said, "Our citizens said enough."

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. — Douglas County doesn't have a solution to school safety, but they do have money, according to Wendy Holmes, the spokesperson for the Board of Douglas County Commissioners.

The board announced the re-appropriation of $10 million from their general fund toward public school safety and mental health services at a 1:30 p.m. meeting. 

The board meeting comes less than one week after authorities said two STEM School Highlands Ranch students opened fire on classmates, killing 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo and injuring eight others. 

RELATED: 1 student killed, 8 others injured when classmates open fire at STEM School Highlands Ranch

According to Holmes, the $10 million is additional revenue from taxpayers and based on the "outcry from the county" after the shooting, the board decided it was best used toward public safety because "our citizens said enough." 

"It is not a mystery what happened," said Commission Abe Laydon. "A guitar case with guns made it into the school. How do we stop that? ...The time for action is now." 

RELATED: Douglas County sheriff pulled SRO out of STEM School last year in pay, performance dispute

Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said during the meeting that the ratio of school resource officers (SRO) to students in DougCo is "not appropriate." 

He pointed to Mountain View High School and Middle School as an example, which has more than 3,000 students and one SRO. Spurlock said the number should be closer to 1,000 students to one SRO.

However, Spurlock also said this fund will not be an immediate solution to that problem.

"We can't hire any personnel with that $10 million dollars. That is a one-time expenditure," he explained. "Personnel requires ongoing budget. So that's not a one-time thing." 

Spurlock said he'll be asking for more dedicated funding for additional SROs in his next budget. He said the $10 million could help with other projects.

"We could use it for some specially located projected metal detectors," Spurlock explained. "We could use it for education and training of people who are involved in school security. We could use it for training of our officers. We could use it for mental health training so we can hire an organization to come in and do a lot of mental health training for not only the SROs but also teachers and school staff."

Although much of Monday's meeting centered around the conversation on SROs, many parents also said they would like the money to go toward having single points of entry and metal detectors. 

One student said he would like a group dedicated to mental health because his peers sometimes feel uncomfortable talking to adult counselors.

Some students told commissioners they don't feel safe.

"A lot of us don’t feel safe at school," said one high school student. "Many of us don’t feel safe knowing anyone who looks like a student, anyone who carries a backpack, anyone who could walk in could be there to potentially hurt us."

"Parents and kids are in fear that, every day, their kids go to school now something is going to happen," one father told commissioners. "Kids shouldn’t be fearing that they’re going to get shot when they walk into school. They should be fearing their parents that they’re getting a D in science."

In previous years, Holmes said the board has sent out surveys to the community asking if they would rather additional revenue went back to them as tax credits or was put toward something in the county they care about. 

RELATED: STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting: 9NEWS coverage of the tragedy

In 2017, Holmes said the survey results led the board to put the money toward transportation. 

Before the shooting, the board was considering divvying up the $10 million in the form of $40 dollar tax credits per household. 

The one-time funding is expected to get final approval later this month.

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