PORTLAND, Maine — Portland High School incoming juniors Gabby and Ashleigh Daniels said they were shocked after hearing the school board discussed a proposed resolution to get rid of school resource officers.
"He's a positive impact on our school. We know we can go to him for anything," Ashleigh said of the school resource officer at Portland High School.
It's why the sisters created a petition calling on the school board to keep the officers.
"They care about the students. They do everything for the students," Gabby said.
The district currently has two school resource officers: one at Portland High School and one at Deering High School.
The Portland Public School Board held a meeting Tuesday night to discuss the resolution. Members had conflicting opinions.
“It’s the littlest thing that we figured out as adults to try to do to protect our kids. I’m not comfortable with that band aid. I never have been, and it’s hurting black and brown kids everyday," Board Member Adam Burke said.
“Are we potentially throwing away a long relationship with our school resource officers that have - by all that I know of our SRO’s is that they are caring individuals, they are supportive adults for our students," Board Member Marnie Marrione said.
$152,434 is built into the district's budget for the officers. The district conducted surveys taken from students. More than 90% of those surveyed said they feel safer at school knowing there is a SRO.
"Their job is to protect the students at Portland and Deering. So everything they do is for us," Gabby said.
The sisters said while they acknowledge the systematic racial issues of policing, they believe the officers make the schools a better place.
The petition has gotten more than 500 signatures. A vote on the resolution is expected to happen June 30.