Saturday, May 26, 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
ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of May 20, 2018

ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of May 20, 2018

Florida lawmakers set a lot of new programs in motion for the coming school year. They left the implementation details to be hashed out. To prepare, the Department of Education has begun issuing draft rules so participants will know what to do.  ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Respondents criticize superintendent in Hernando schools survey

Respondents criticize superintendent in Hernando schools survey

Along with complaints about too much testing and the need for more technology in classrooms, Hernando County School District received grumbles against Superintendent Lori Romano in a recent community survey — with some pushing for her firing.Th...
Published: 05/25/18
Increased scholarships aim to boost college access in Pinellas County

Increased scholarships aim to boost college access in Pinellas County

A handful of new scholarship opportunities and initiatives will aim to boost local access to higher education in Pinellas County, state representatives and higher education officials announced this week.The goal is to help local students make it all ...
Published: 05/25/18
Florida education news: Special session, test scores, squirt guns and more

Florida education news: Special session, test scores, squirt guns and more

SPECIAL SESSION: Florida House Democrats had hoped to convince their colleagues to reconvene for a new debate on public education funding. Other Democrats agreed. The Republicans did not.TEST SCORES: Florida elementary schools rec...
Published: 05/25/18
Florida Department of Education delivers third-grade reading test results

Florida Department of Education delivers third-grade reading test results

Most of Florida's third graders will get to find out whether they passed the required state reading test before the school year ends, after all.The Florida Department of Education, under pressure from parents and educators to get the scores out ...
Published: 05/24/18
Democrats’ push for special session on education funding falls along party lines

Democrats’ push for special session on education funding falls along party lines

To almost no one's surprise, a last ditch effort to bring Florida lawmakers back to Tallahassee for another conversation about public education funding has failed.A group of House Democrats, led by Reps. Shevrin Jones and Nicholas Duran, used an...
Published: 05/24/18
Pasco County’s Marlowe Elementary School to get a new principal

Pasco County’s Marlowe Elementary School to get a new principal

Rayann Mitchell, an assistant principal at West Zephyrhills Elementary for the past year, has been appointed to take over James Marlowe Elementary as its next principal.Marlowe's outgoing principal, Hilda Martin, will head a new district-level confli...
Published: 05/24/18
Gradebook podcast: Researcher Celeste Carruthers discusses the effects of ending teacher ‘tenure’ in Florida

Gradebook podcast: Researcher Celeste Carruthers discusses the effects of ending teacher ‘tenure’ in Florida

Florida lawmakers did away with teacher professional services continuing contracts — commonly referred to as tenure — in 2011. They argued such a change would lead to improved student performance.Teachers fought the idea vehemently. They ...
Published: 05/24/18
Florida education news: School closing, teacher pay, graduation day and more

Florida education news: School closing, teacher pay, graduation day and more

FINAL ACT: Current and former students, staff and friends of Pasco County's Ridgewood High bid a formal farewell to the school, which closes this spring after 40 years of operation. The campus will reopen in the fall as a technical high school, ...
Published: 05/24/18
USF Sun Dome to increase security for Pasco County high school graduations

USF Sun Dome to increase security for Pasco County high school graduations

Concerns still high over security at high profile school events, the USF Sun Dome plans to increase safety measures for this week's Pasco County high school graduation ceremonies.Family and friends might want to arrive a bit early to be sure to ...
Published: 05/23/18