Superintendents Make School Safety Case to Senate

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Tallahassee, FL - Leon and Wakulla County School superintendents Jackie Pons and Bobby Pearce were two of the three school representatives presenting to Florida's Senate Education committee Tuesday. They echoed previous requests for help from the state to fund putting a school resource officer in every school.

"That presence is always the number one priority. if we can place that SRO at every school center then we have a good guy who's trained to handle the worst case scenarios," said Wakulla superintendent Pearce.

Funding could be an issue with an estimated 100 million dollar price tag to put an SRO in every school in Florida.

"Money is part of the issue, but we can't allow ourselves just to focus on putting armed people in schools. We have to look at this comprehensively, we have to look at every possible way to ensure the safety of our young people," said Vice Chair of the committee Sen. Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee).

Pons is confident he could put the officers in every school with a little more money from the state.

"We're currently getting one million from Safe Schools (funding) and one million from the county, if I had an additional million I think I could do it," he said.

Senator Montford agrees that parents have a right to be concerned for their children's safety, but he believes that there is not one absolute solution to prevent future tragedies.

"Our particular school district, they've done everything possible, but you cannot guarantee someone's safety, no matter where you are," said the senator.

The senate's education appropriations committee will meet Wednesday to talk about the potential new school safety funding.

Tallahassee, FL - Florida school districts will be pressing the state's legislature for more funding this session. The added funding will be used to provide more school resource officers, mainly in elementary schools.

Leon County Schools superintendent Jackie Pons asked Florida Governor Rick Scott to pay for school resource officers in every school, including elementary schools, Newtown, Conn. school shooting tragedy.

Leon County and Leon County Schools split the $2.3 million dollar cost for their current SRO's, and about $70 million dollars of Florida's budget goes toward school security. Pons has ideas about who they could put in schools besides active law enforcement.

"We currently have an SRO program for our middle schools and our high schools, on that type of model there would be a cost but there could be another way of funding it, too, if you took retired officers, retired sheriff's department, retired policeman, retired military, veterans, and trained them," said Pons.

Executive Director of the Florida School Board Association Dr. Wayne Blanton said of the $70 million dollar funding: "That's not nearly enough dollars to have a resource officer in every school. Hardly any of the elementary schools have a school resource officer. It would cost in excess of 100 million dollars to have a school resource officer in every school in Florida."

Both Pons and Dr. Blanton will meet with Florida's Senate Education Committee to talk about school safety issues on Tuesday, Jan. 15th.

12-21.2012 by Julie Montanaro

Leon County's Sheriff and school superintendent are calling on the governor to pay for a school resource officer in every school. And a city commissioner is now calling for police patrols in the interim.

The requests come on the heels of a massacre that killed 20 children and 6 adults at an elementary school in Connecticut.

There are 23 shool resource officers in Leon County. Most high schools and middle schools have one full time, and the elementary schools share.

Now the Leon County Sheriff and School Superintendent are asking the governor to find finding for a full time officer at every school.

"When it comes to protecting our children I don't think we need to spend a lot of time talking about cost. We need to take action,"
Superintendent Jackie Pons said.

Leon County and Leon County Schools split the 2.3 million dollar tab for school resource officers each year.

Tally up the salary, benefits, car and computer and it's about $100 thousand dollars for every SRO. That's why the plea comes now as the governor crafts his budget.

"This is what they're elected to do is to find a mechanism to protect our children and make sure we have the safest schools we could possibly have."

City Commisisoner Scott Maddox says he'll take a proposal to fellow commissioners in January asking for regular and directed patrols at elementary schools until the legislature has a chance to debate a more permanent solution.

"Our TPD officers can start right now visiting elementary schools in the their districts. We can do directed patrols," Maddox said. "They get out of the car, they go inside talk to parents, teachers, and school administrators and they get to talk to the kids to make sure that everybody feels sage and there's a law enforcement presence at our elementary schools."

Maddox will present the idea at the city's January 9th meeting.

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