Students in several Oneida County School Districts are returning to safer schools.

County Executive Anthony Picente says five schools districts have joined the Whitesboro Central School District in adding Special Patrol Officers.  Whitesboro was the first school district to hire SPOs in 2016.

Picente made $500,000 available in the county budget for school districts to hire the SPO's.

“When I first announced that I wanted to make this funding available in April, I did so because I wanted action,” Picente said. “As I watched the seemingly never-ending news stream of school shootings and violence inflicting pain, loss and fear on our nation’s children, parents and educators, I knew we had to act where others were not. With these highly-trained and armed retired law enforcement members securing our schools and protecting our community’s most precious resource, our classrooms can hopefully refocus on the important task of shaping and molding young minds.”

There are now 28 Special Patrol Officers dispersed throughout six school districts in the county.

The school districts joining Whitesboro are Camden, New York Mills, Westmoreland, Waterville and Sauquoit Valley.

More school districts are expected to sign on through the Sheriff’s Office as the school year progresses.