Tuesday, November 13, 2018

School security not law enforcement’s problem, Florida Sheriff’s Association says

It's not a secret: Florida's school districts are struggling to find enough money to place armed security on each campus, as now required by law.

What's new lately is many local governments have begun saying they won't help out with their law enforcement departments. In the past few days, both the Pinellas and Manatee county commissions have told their districts to go it alone.

The Citrus County School Board, meanwhile, took the unusual step of committing its entire safe schools budget plus extra funds allocated this year to the Sheriff's Office, to make sure sworn officers are assigned to every county school.

Related: Florida now requires schools to have armed protection. Districts and counties must make that a reality.

If you're wondering why the agencies, which generally have cooperated in the past, are taking such stances, you might need to look no further than a May 2 legal opinion the Florida Sheriff's Association lawyer has drafted.

The four-page document, which is circulating throughout the state, argues that the Legislature put school districts — not law enforcement — on the hook for the expenses of guarding the schools.

"It is apparent the Act requires school districts to fund any general appropriations shortfall either through reallocating funds under their respective budgets or accessing their reserved funds or raising their millage rates," association general counsel Wayne Evans wrote.

Several school boards have discussed asking voters to approve property tax rate increases to help pay for security. Some plan to hold referendums as early as this fall.

Evans pointed to Florida statute on funding for school operations (1011.62) to support his position. The section on categorical funding, as amended this spring, states specifically that if a district finds its categorical funds are urgently needed for classroom instruction or school safety improvements, "the school board may consider and approve an amendment to the school district operating budget transferring the identified amount of the categorical funds to the appropriate account for expenditure."

Sheriff's offices are not included in that section, Evans noted, suggesting that the clear meaning is that districts carry the budgetary responsibility for school security.

Related: The new struggle for Florida schools: Paying for education — and security

District leaders across the state have as a result begun scaling back their plans to add resource officers to their schools. Increasingly, they are looking to create less expensive security guard positions, with retired officers and military veterans as the likely candidates for those jobs.

Comments
Nearly 100 ideas to rename Tampa’s Lee Elementary

Nearly 100 ideas to rename Tampa’s Lee Elementary

From the obvious to the ironic and back again, Hillsborough residents racked their collective brains to find the best new name for Lee Elementary School.MaryEllen Elia was suggested, for the last superintendent.But that won't happen. A newly revised ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
USF and other Florida universities join nationwide effort to improve college access

USF and other Florida universities join nationwide effort to improve college access

Together, they will "create a playbook of adaptable student success reforms," USF said.
Updated: 6 hours ago
Supporters defend Pasco principal accused of stealing $900 from a student

Supporters defend Pasco principal accused of stealing $900 from a student

Days after the arrest of Connerton Elementary principal John Abernathy, accused of stealing $900 from a student with special needs, "Team John" began lobbying the school district to keep the veteran administrator on the job.Superintendent Kurt Browni...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Florida superintendents association adopts legislative platform

Florida superintendents association adopts legislative platform

Funding plays a key role in several of the recommendations.
Updated: 11 hours ago
Florida education news: Prekindergarten, parent pushback, school board races and more

Florida education news: Prekindergarten, parent pushback, school board races and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Published: 11/13/18
Hudson Elementary staff, families hope to halt proposal to close school

Hudson Elementary staff, families hope to halt proposal to close school

The Pasco County superintendent has recommended shutting down the campus in 2021.
Published: 11/12/18
Florida education news: School funding, board members, student testing and more

Florida education news: School funding, board members, student testing and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Published: 11/12/18
Florida voters are saying yes when school districts ask for more money. Is that a good thing?

Florida voters are saying yes when school districts ask for more money. Is that a good thing?

Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins takes a clear message from last week's election, which saw many Floridians vote to tax themselves more to help public schools meet rising costs.People see the challenges firsthand and "they know t...
Published: 11/12/18
Linda Lerner steps away after 28 years on the Pinellas School Board. ‘I wanted to make things better for everybody’

Linda Lerner steps away after 28 years on the Pinellas School Board. ‘I wanted to make things better for everybody’

Linda Lerner, one of Florida's longest-serving school officials with nearly three decades on the Pinellas County School Board, will step down Tuesday, leaving her seat for one of three new members elected last week.The decision was difficult, Lerner ...
Published: 11/12/18
ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Nov. 5, 2018

ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Nov. 5, 2018

Can Florida’s courts determine what a “high quality” education system looks like? Or is that too subjective a term? The Florida Supreme Court has that question before it, as it determines whether a 9-year-old school funding adequacy...
Published: 11/10/18