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Florida superintendents join call for veto of school ‘guardian’ funding

They ask for the money to be allocated so schools can choose either guardians or resource officers.

While awaiting Gov. Rick Scott's decision on the school safety legislation before him, Florida's school superintendents have joined the Florida Education Association in urging Scott to reject the funding for a program designed to allow districts to train and arm certain employees.

In a letter signed by Broward County superintendent Robert Runcie, whose district suffered the mass shooting that prompted the legislation, the superintendents organization suggested that the $67 million set aside for the school "guardian" program is too much money.

They ask Scott to veto the amount in the budget, and to direct the Legislature to reallocate the amount so it can be used to pay for either the guardian program or additional sworn resource officers, whichever a district prefers.

"If SB 7026 is approved as it was enacted, Florida superintendents will be faced with the untenable position to implement the Marshal Program even if the superintendent, school board, local sheriff and teachers and parents oppose it," wrote Runcie, the group's president.

That's because as written, the law requires districts to have at least one "safe-school officer" per campus, and the bill does not include enough for all districts to afford law enforcement officers, Runcie and others have observed.

"For the life of me, I can't understand why they provide more funding for the marshal program than for placing a law enforcement officer in every school," said Pasco County superintendent Kurt Browning, the organization's vice president.

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

Scott is expected to sign SB 7026 later this afternoon. The Legislature has not yet forwarded its appropriations bills.

Listen to our latest podcast for more on this subject: Is Florida really going to arm its teachers?