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Districts Find Creative Solutions to Meet Safety Officer Mandate

August 13th, 2018 by Jake Stofan
Every school must have at least one school resource officer starting this year.
It sounds simple, but Florida school districts say meeting the new requirement has proven a daunting task.
“Finding a way to pay for that, that really is the challenge,” said Andrea Messina with the Florida School Boards Association.
A lack of funding in the state’s new school safety law forced districts to fork out a large portion of the cash themselves or find creative ways to meet the requirement temporarily.
In the State’s capital city, the school district is allowing off-duty officers to pick up shifts at schools.
“Over 140 police officers volunteered to step up on their day off to help us in off duty capacity,” said Leon County School Superintendent Rocky Hanna.
Hanna says the solution is cheaper than hiring and training new officers.
“Without that support from our sheriff’s department and Tallahassee police we would not be able to accomplish this,” said Hanna.
Other counties like Clay County have put a referendum on the ballot that would increase taxes to help cover the cost.
In the meantime, some aspects of the law like school hardening have been put on hold while schools work to make sure the resource officer mandate is addressed.
“Some of the money that could have gone to hardening is actually going into the SRO funding,” said Messina. “So we may see a delay in some of the physical hardening of facilities.”
Lawmakers and school officials say more funds will need to be allocated in next year’s budget to ensure all counties in the state have a way to hire permanent school resource officers for all of Florida’s more than 4,200 schools.
Starting this year students, faculty and staff will be required to take part in active shooter training once a semester.

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