Thursday, September 20, 2018

Florida school districts report needing about double the current number of resource officers

Much of the discussion about improving security at Florida's schools has centered on whether teachers and other staff should carry weapons. Many of the leaders who oppose that idea say they'd much prefer having more armed law enforcement officers on the campuses.

Palm Beach's School Board chairman and Seminole's superintendent each said, for instance, that their current plans have officers at every school already.

But many districts have yet to come close to that goal.

The Florida Department of Education found in a recent survey of districts that to meet the target of at least one resource officer per campus, the state would need to come up with about 1,550 more SROs at an estimated cost of $116 million.

The bigger the counties, the bigger the need. Broward and Miami-Dade indicate they need at least 100 additional officers to meet the mark. But size is not the only factor.

Resources also matter.

The Polk County school district, eighth largest in Florida and less than one-third the size of Miami-Dade, signaled it could use more new officers than Miami-Dade.

Many sheriffs and school board members have said the amount of money lawmakers have put on the table to meet this need is not sufficient. Some have asked lawmakers to consider moving money from the proposed "guardian" program into paying for officers.

The Legislature continues to hone its budget proposals today.

Related coverage: Are school districts going to participate in armed 'guardians' program? 

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