No full-time armed officers for Pasco elementary schools, superintendent says
A clearly insistent Wendy Seth, mom of two at Lake Myrtle Elementary School in Land O'Lakes, had a simple demand of the Pasco County school district as she spoke to the School Board late Tuesday: She wanted a full-time armed police patrol at the county's elementary schools.
"There is no excuse in this day and age for there not to be a police presence at the elementary level," Seth said. "I realize money is tight. … But when it comes to safety … something needs to be done. It’s not right to pretend like it’s not happening."
She referred to the Dec. 15 shooting massacre at a Connecticut elementary school that rocked the nation.
School Board members and staff generally don't respond to public comments at their meetings. Superintendent Kurt Browning made an exception.
He acknowledged the fears that many parents have expressed in the aftermath of the deaths of so many young children. That's why the district added security to schools for the week. He also stressed the district's ongoing commitment to making schools as safe as possible. His staff began discussing with sheriff's deputies what further security measures the district might need to take even before the tragedy.
But Browning said he won't go as far as putting armed officers permanently at the elementary schools. It's not a message he believes the district wants to send, that children are unsafe without armed guards on constant patrol.
"This is an issue we struggle with," he said. "Events have caused us to ratchet up our thoughts. ... But we believe things will come back to some state of normalcy."
He said the heightened security will be gone when students return from winter break.
A similar conversation occurred in Hernando schools this week, with a similar result. "At this point, I don't think we're prepared to go there. Having a resource officer is a wonderful thing. But it doesn't ensure anything, "Hernando superintendent Bryan Blavatt said.
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