A new report from Florida’s school superintendents warns that despite a nearly $100 million increase in funding, there may not be enough money to post an armed school resource officer at each school in the state.
In reacting to the shooting deaths of 17 students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, the Legislature passed a new budget and related bills that boosted funding for resource officers by $97.5 million to $162 million in the upcoming academic year.
But a report from the Florida Association of District School Superintendents said school districts might not be able to meet the goal of posting at least one safety officer at each of Florida’s more than 3,500 elementary, middle and high schools. The report was part of a State Board of Education agenda for a meeting Tuesday in LaBelle but was not discussed.
“We appreciate the legislative appropriations, but many districts will have difficulty meeting the requirement to establish or assign one (or) more safe-school officers at each school facility,” the report said.
The superintendents also said a lack of funding for law-enforcement officers may put pressure on districts to use the “Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program,” which would allow school employees, including some teachers, to bring guns to school if they are specially trained and deputized by sheriffs.
But noting the opposition to the guardian program in many districts and communities, the superintendents said much of the $67 million for that initiative may go unspent. They asked the Board of Education for support in shifting some of those funds to the school resource officer program.
“Superintendents request that you support and recommend that these unspent dollars be used in districts for additional school resource officers or other school safety measures,” the report said.
In a recent interview with The News Service of Florida, Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said lawmakers may considering using the Joint Legislative Budget Commission to shift some of the guardian funds into other safety measures if the money goes unspent, although it was too early to make that determination.
The superintendents also raised concerns about a provision in the new school-safety law that will require “active shooter” and “hostage situations” drills in the schools.
“Superintendents support these drills, but they must be accomplished with minimal disruption to teaching and learning and in a manner that does not unnecessarily frighten students, particularly elementary students,” the report said.
The superintendents said they would work with the Department of Education on other school-safety initiatives, including establishing a state Safe Schools Office, developing a school security-risk assessment tool and implementing the guardian program.
The report also offered some recommendations on implementing a new $69 million mental-health services program, which has been a top priority for the school superintendents for some time.
But the report warned that some school districts could face budget cuts in the coming year because the bulk of increased spending in the new education budget is targeted toward the school safety and mental health issues in the wake of the Broward County shooting.
The superintendents noted that the “base student allocation,” the primary source for general operational activities, only increased by 47 cents per student statewide, a fraction of the overall funding increase of $101.50 per student.
“With only a 47-cent increase in the BSA, superintendents will be forced to cut their budgets — cuts that will impact students, schools and communities that are served,” the report said.
–Lloyd Dunkelberger, News Service of Florida
Private schools need to pay for their own officer!
Class doors should automatically lock when closed! Opened by office or teacher with a buzzer.
Our $terrify claims it cost $120,000. for each Deputy, That includes, cars, benefits, pensions, computers, radios, radar and 100’s of other expensive toys that should be reconsidered. The burden rate of the FCCSIshould not be levied on the schools. We don’t to pay for travel like the trip last week to the FBI ACACADEMYfor a graduation ceremony.
The teachers that want to be armed should be allowed to carry concealed. Just give it some thought your kid is in school and a gunmen comes into the school shooting would you prefer that you kids teacher and others be armed or they should wait for the school resource officer to get there. This would save a lot of money and make your kids safer. Think about it before you liberals start wining.
Quit funneling taxpayers money to private schools... says
That should about do it. Didnt you guys just write a story on that?
The School Board should contact the Commander of our Well Regulated Militia and ask him/her for trained volunteer for school security duty.
Wasn’t the cost considered and determined and confirmed before proceeding with the plan??? Sounds like a bunch of knee jerk people are in charge. If you can’t afford it then you don’t do it! We cannot afford to prepare for the what if’s.
Tax gun owners and ammunition owners to pay the cost for added security. We tax cigarettes to pay for the negative health impacts, we tax alcohol to pay for the social costs of alcoholism, it only makes sense to tax the gun worshipers for the social cost of allowing military style weapons into society. Tax the NRA, no more tax exempt status.
Thats good. Schools should be gun free zones, next thing you knw cops are shooting minorty students because they thought their cell phone was a gun. Lets have common semse about this issue
Parents of the kids in school should pay for it. If they can march, they can pay.
Education is the key to the future of our civilization! We ALL need to contribute to “PUBLIC” education for ALL children. . . just as we have been doing. Turning our schools, homes and cities into armed fortresses will create nothing but more and more violence and murder.
Getting the automatic and semi automatic guns out of public circulation would be a good start to sensible gun safety. Although common sense says that we cannot round up all such weapons. . . we can eliminate the ammunition. . . which would render them essentially useless.
Other countries do not have our problems with such mass murders simply because they do not have so many guns, guns, guns owned by private citizens. . . without stringent regulations.