City Spending Millions on School Security

Crampton Bowl is the site of numerous high school events, and the events cost millions in city funds each year for security.
Crampton Bowl is the site of numerous high school events, and the events cost millions in city funds each year for security.

Montgomery, Al. (WSFA) -- With a slowing economy many people are being forced to make tough decisions when it comes to their family budget.

The city of Montgomery is no exception, but on a much larger scale.

During budget hearings, council members wanted to know, for instance, why the city pays nearly $3 million for police security in Montgomery schools and at athletic events.

Does it mean schools will start picking up the tab in the Fall?

The answer is not necessarily, even though officials are in the process of setting aside millions of dollars.

Throughout the Fall Cramton Bowl becomes "Friday Night Lights" with football games, fans and Montgomery city police.

Just for one game, anywhere from 20 to 35 officers patrol The Bowl.

A high school game is just one of 35 events that take place at the location every year, and every year it costs the police department between $500 to $600 thousand in overtime.

The Department also spends more than $1 million a year for putting officers in schools and more than $900,000 a year for crossing guards.

Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright explained says, "Some council members were concerned, and  wanted to know where that money was being spent."

It was a questions expressed Tuesday during a budget hearing, but both sides insist there is no bone of contention, merely a fact-finding mission on the city's part.

Right now, all city departments have been ordered to cut 5% from their budget, "They didn't volunteer to say they would try to help us," Bright adds, "What they did do, they said they would look into how much they are spending towards security. They have their own security."

Tom Salter, spokesman for the Montgomery County Public Schools, say, "I never heard anyone say we need the school to help pay...You have to keep in mind our budget is tight here with the school system too."

It's tight even though the school district is projecting it'll have about $19 million saved in one month's operating expenses by the end of September.

Bright responds," If they got 19 million, they're in a better position to help us this year."

Salter says, "The problem is we anticipate pro-ration next year which means if that happens we will have to dip into that savings account."

In the end, no one from the city even suggested pulling the plug on security.

In fact, it's just the opposite.

Getting back to that $19 million, that will be a record for the school district, but it may not last long.

By state law school systems are required to have at least one month's saving set aside for unexpected expenses.