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Flagler District Shelves School-Cop Posting in All Elementaries, Reverting to Previous Plan

| July 10, 2013

It'll have to do. (woodleywonderworks)

It’ll have to do. (woodleywonderworks)

So much for December’s panic about school security: there will be no deputies in Flagler County’s five elementary school when classes resume on Aug. 19.

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The Flagler County School Board Tuesday evening gave its approval to the district’s new  contract with the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office to provide six school resource deputies, or SRDs, and seven crossing guards for the duration of the school year.

Last spring the school board had decided to place five additional deputies in the county’s five elementary schools. The decision was prompted not so much by the December massacre of 20 elementary school students at Sandy Hook Elementary, but by a parent at Old Kings Elementary who decided to privately pay for her own school cop and post him at Old Kings, beginning in late January, at a cost of nearly $12,000 for just two months.

The private cop arrangement was reached hurriedly between the parent—Laurie Lauria, at the time the parent of a sixth-grader at Old Kings, Nancy Willis, at the time the principal at the school, and the district administration, without school board approval. The board subsequently ratified the decision with a lot of reservations, stressing that it felt uncomfortable approving a private cop at one school without having cops at other elementary schools. So the board then extended the posting of cops at all elementary schools for the remainder of the year, at a total cost to taxpayers of $84,000, relieving the parent of the cost of the cop at Old Kings, and pledged to continue assigning cops in elementary schools in the 2013-14 school year—0if voters were to approve a referendum raising property taxes last June 7.

Voters rejected the referendum by a wide margin.

The posting of additional cops would have cost the district between $275,000 and $437,000 a year. By June 7, it had become clear that tying the school cop measure to the referendum had hurt its chance of success rather than helped it. By then, emotions over the Newtown, Conn., massacre had cooled, along with congressional appetite for new gun control legislation.

Lauria’s sixth grade daughter at Old Kings has moved on to middle school, where cops are on campus, so she will not be writing another check.

“If a private request comes up, I’ll bring it to the board’s attention and they’ll make a decision,” School Superintendent Janet Valentine said Tuesday. “We don’t anticipate that happening.”

Two deputies will be posted at Flagler Palm Coast High School, one at Matanzas High School, and one each at Buddy Taylor and Indian Trails Middle School. The school board is footing the $280,000 bill for four deputies. Palm Coast is paying for one deputy. And the sheriff’s office is providing a sixth deputy—a supervisor—at its own expense.


The average cost of a deputy, when benefits, training, equipment and support services are included, is $74,000. The $280,000 the board is paying includes $67,300 for six crossing guards—one each at Belle Terre, Rymfire and Bunnell elementaries, two at Buddy Taylor Middle School and Wadsworth Elementary, and two at Indian Trails Middle School. (In 2006, the school board had nine deputies posted at all its schools, for just $222,000.)

The entire $280,000 cost to the district for the coming year’s cops will be paid for with a Safe Schools grant from the Legislature.

The school board will formally ratify the new school-cop contract at a subsequent meeting. But it gave its approval the same day that school districts and police agencies in north Florida held the second Rural County Summit in Gadsen County, where school security was the main topic of discussion. The conference was held at the Florida Public Safety Institute, near Quincy, and was organized by the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Attorney Pamela Marsh, the North Florida Domestic Security Task Force and the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

Lt. Christopher Vanghelle of the Newtown Police Department and Lt. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police were on hand to discuss the Sandy Hook shootings in strategy sessions that were closed to the public, according to the News Service of Florida. They met with reporters, and Vanghelle, one of the first on the scene after Adam Lanza opened fire, praised the quick response at the elementary school.

“Just us arriving there when we did made that shooter stop and take his own life, which saved hundreds of other lives,” Vanghelle said. But he acknowledged he could never have prepared for Dec. 14, 2012, when 20 children and six school staff members died.

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6 Responses for “Flagler District Shelves School-Cop Posting in All Elementaries, Reverting to Previous Plan”

  1. Kip Durocher says:

    fire up the clown car ~ the FCSB is going on a field trip.
    where? I have a couple of suggestions.

  2. Art Vanderlay says:

    So the most vulnerable of our children are left exposed……..way to go Palm Coast, but hey make sure Belle Terre Pkwy median is perfectly landscaped,manicured and irrigated….and make sure we fit the bill for Fox Landscaping to care for the aforementioned. Idiots

  3. Art Vanderlay says:

    PS…. I wonder if the families,friends & neighbors of the children from Sandy Hook Elementary would pay $300,000 for the lives lost

  4. BW says:

    I love how people continue to try and blame the voters for the failure of the referendum pointing the finger as though county residents don’t care about education. Here’s some facts:

    1. The School Board knew the original referendum was expiring and chose not to ask for it to be extended on the November 2012 ballot. That would have provided $1.75 million for 4 years and most likely would have passed. That $1.6 million would have covered the costs of the guards the article is referring to.

    2. INSTEAD the School Board decided to “double down” and try to get voters to approve .50 mill for $3.2 million with a price tag of most likely over $80,000 (out of school funds) to pay for the election this past June. That’s right, $80,000 from student classrooms was basically taken to Vegas and lost.

    3. According to Colleen Conklin, it wasn’t about security mainly at the Elementary Schools or at least it was up until people questioned why you need $3.2 million for something you are stating will cost $400,000.

    4. The main focus of the referendum proposal was reinstating 45 minutes which apparently takes the hiring of 40 teachers at over $2 Million to do. It was revealed that you could reinstate the 45 without the costs, but our teachers and the Union refuse to allow that.

    5. The presentation by the School Board (namely Colleen Conklln) and Janet Valentine to the voters was sketchy and shady. The figures often changed or were exploded.

    6. Property tax payers already pay the highest millage for the school tax line at half of the homestead. AND property taxes are going up regardless as taxable values increase which means more to the schools.

    7. The schools revealed a great deal of large-scale waste that could be eliminated.

    8. This one is huge . . . only about 5,900 people voted FOR the referendum. There are over 12,000 students. IF just 1 parent per student showed up and not counting the School employees, that’s over 12,000 FOR votes right there. The truth is that obviously the parents and the school employees were not for the referendum.

    What the residents ARE failing to do right now is hold those who gambled with school funds accountable. Colleen Conklin took charge on this, tried to sell, a tax increase, provided faulty information, and then points the finger at voters for the failure to pass. The failure is mainly Colleen Conklin and she owes every parent and voter an apology. The next in line is Janet Valentine. Both should tender their resignations.

    • Colleen Conklin says:

      BW, I am happy to defend myself and have the courage to use my own name.
      “1. The School Board knew the original referendum was expiring and chose not to ask for it to be extended on the November 2012 ballot. That would have provided $1.75 million for 4 years and most likely would have passed. That $1.6 million would have covered the costs of the guards the article is referring to.” Not true. We had a choice to make prior to the fall election. Ask voters to continue to support the half penny sales tax which would continue to be in effect for 10 years or ask voters to continue to support .25 for four years. We didn’t feel we could ask for both so we felt it was more prudent to ask voters to consider the half penny instead.

      “2. INSTEAD the School Board decided to “double down” and try to get voters to approve .50 mill for $3.2 million with a price tag of most likely over $80,000 (out of school funds) to pay for the election this past June. That’s right, $80,000 from student classrooms was basically taken to Vegas and lost.” False. We did not decide to “double down”. We had additional circumstances to deal with in addition to Sandy Hook such as declining enrollment, federal sequestration and other legislative changes. Asking for the continuation of .25 millage wouldn’t have addressed any of those issues and we would still be looking at major cuts.”

      “3. According to Colleen Conklin, it wasn’t about security mainly at the Elementary Schools or at least it was up until people questioned why you need $3.2 million for something you are stating will cost $400,000.” False, I am one board member. Yes, my focus out of the gate may have been about school security. However, it was about returning the 45 minutes, saving current programs we have in place and yes about placing our School Resource Officers back in our elementary schools.

      “4. The main focus of the referendum proposal was reinstating 45 minutes which apparently takes the hiring of 40 teachers at over $2 Million to do. It was revealed that you could reinstate the 45 without the costs, but our teachers and the Union refuse to allow that.” Again false – we can not do that without violation of our contract and yes, it would cost money to do that. If you have a way to reinstate the 45 minutes without adding any teachers, please do share this information with our Superintendent.

      “5. The presentation by the School Board (namely Colleen Conklln) and Janet Valentine to the voters was sketchy and shady. The figures often changed or were exploded.” I worked with and presented the figures I was provided. We went above and beyond to link every single number we used to outside sources to prove their validity once concerns were shared with us.

      “6. Property tax payers already pay the highest millage for the school tax line at half of the homestead. AND property taxes are going up regardless as taxable values increase which means more to the schools.” Somewhat true – home values are rising but your school taxes have dramatically declined in the last 10 years. The schools are not receiving more money. Florida’s funding formula is very different than any other areas in the country. We have an equalizing formula across all counties. We just had to make additional cuts that were unknown AFTER the referendum. Our budgets and tax collection, distribution work very differently here than say up north.

      “7. The schools revealed a great deal of large-scale waste that could be eliminated.” I don’t see how cutting all library book purchases for a year is large waste. I don’t see how continuing to bus elementary kids within the 2 mile large waste scale but we did find efficiencies and will continue as cuts are necessary.

      “8. This one is huge . . . only about 5,900 people voted FOR the referendum. There are over 12,000 students. IF just 1 parent per student showed up and not counting the School employees, that’s over 12,000 FOR votes right there. The truth is that obviously the parents and the school employees were not for the referendum.” I am not sure if this is true or false. However, it does appear this may be a true statement.

      “What the residents ARE failing to do right now is hold those who gambled with school funds accountable. Colleen Conklin took charge on this, tried to sell, a tax increase, provided faulty information, and then points the finger at voters for the failure to pass. The failure is mainly Colleen Conklin and she owes every parent and voter an apology. The next in line is Janet Valentine. Both should tender their resignations.” Brad, what I did was my job. The charge was to educate the community and voters. I attempted to do that. I obviously didn’t do that very well and for that I will apologize but I won’t apologize for doing what I was elected to do. I believe and still believe the referendum was the right thing for our district. We would be in a much better position for the next 4 years if it had passed. We wouldn’t be passing draconian cuts, we would have been able to provide students with additional instructional time and we’d be providing additional jobs within our community. Regardless of the outcome, we will make it work. We have in the past and will continue to do so. Our students, teachers, administrators and support staff are amazing. We all know the children are coming. I have no doubt will be ready and prepared to offer them a premier learning environment.

  5. Joe Joe says:

    Well maybe if so many people in this county weren’t so CHEAP and voted yes a few weeks ago you would have your officers at these schools….

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