LOWELL, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Resource officers will patrol the halls of two Lowell elementary schools next school year, making them the first school resource officers to be assigned to an elementary school within the Rogers school district.

The Arkansas School Safety Commission recommends having an armed presence in every school.

Rogers Public Schools Superintendent, Jeff Perry, said the City of Lowell and the Lowell Police Department is coming up with the funds and staff necessary to add officers at each of its to elementary schools.

Perry said the City of Rogers helps fund the current SROs at the district’s high schools and middle schools and there are currently no plans to increase that funding to add more officers.

For a patrol car, bulletproof vest, taser and other equipment needed, Perry estimates it would cost around $100,000 per SRO, so he expects the total cost of adding SROs to the remaining 14 elementary schools, to be around $2 million. He said this would require the district to spend money that would take away from other parts of the classroom.

“That means our kindergarten classrooms would be more full. That means our third grades would have one less teacher to work, and we wouldn’t be able to hire an additional counselor that could help with some of the mental issues that lead to some of these kinds of horrific instances,” said Perry.

Along with funding struggles, Perry said Rogers police is facing an understaffed department, and adding more SROs could mean less officers patrolling the city streets.

“If we were to take away another 18 or 20 positions from local law enforcement to supplement our schools, it would have a devastating impact on what they are able to do within their own departments, and then public safety would suffer to some degree,” said Perry.

Perry said even without meeting the goal of having an armed presence in each building, in the case of an emergency, all law enforcement in the area will respond in less than a couple minutes.

Perry said the district, City of Lowell and Lowell Police Department hope to have the SROs at its elementary schools by next school year.