Hillsborough educators are poised to reject state efforts to allow armed teachers

The School Board will vote on its position Tuesday.
Published Feb. 18, 2019|Updated Feb. 18, 2019

No one has voted yet, but it looks like Hillsborough County is giving the idea of armed teachers a hard no.

In response to a bill that allows districts to introduce armed teachers into the schools, the Hillsborough School Board plans to vote Tuesday on a resolution opposing it. “Whereas Senate Bill 7030 will not make students, teachers and staff safer,” the document states, “the School Board of Hillsborough County, Florida, opposes all proposals to arm the teachers employed by the School District of Hillsborough County.”

Superintendent Jeff Eakins said much the same last week, after the bill cleared the Senate Education Committee.

“The district’s position has not changed,” he told the Tampa Bay Times. “After S.B. 7026 passed [requiring armed protection at all schools], Hillsborough County Schools, along with Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister and the police chiefs of Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City determined the safest plan for our students, staff and our schools is to meet the requirements of the guardian program with sheriffs office trained school security officers. Our School Board made it very clear that they oppose arming teachers. Our teachers have spoken up, many of our parents have spoken up and the Sheriff has made it clear that his office will only certify school security officers as part of the guardian program.”

In other matters, the board plans to appoint a principal at Middleton High School, a showcase school with an engineering magnet program. The current principal, Kim Moore, has been dividing her time in recent months between the school and her new job as the school district’s director of administration.

And, although it had not yet been posted as of 3 p.m. on Monday, both the district and its teachers union believe a vote will be taken on a Memorandum of Understanding that allows Eakins to spend $17 million on a teacher recruitment and retention program. Union buy-in is important because bonuses would be available at 50 low-performing “Achievement” schools, and not the others.

Tuesday will mark a change from the way the School Board conducts business. A workshop will be held at 10 a.m. to discuss matters of concern; which will be typical on board meeting days. Then, after a long break for lunch and meetings, the board will hear public comment at 3:30 p.m. and will begin its business meeting at 4 p.m. A consent agenda will be first, followed by a business agenda of items that require discussion. Employee comment is scheduled at 6 p.m.