More SROs? Or armed school ‘guardians?’ Florida debates school safety options

As other states confront their options for making schools safer, here’s a dispatch from the state at the epicenter of the national debate.

In Florida, lawmakers have rejected a $58 million proposal to hire more campus police officers, according to the Associated Press.

Gov. Rick Scott has been pushing to transfer the $58 million from a “school guardian” program. That program, still in its infancy, is designed to allow schools to train staffers to serve as armed guardians — at a cheaper cost than hiring school resource officers.

In a letter to Scott, obtained by the Associated Press, incoming Senate President Bill Galvano disputed Scott’s assertion that the $58 million for the guardian program would go to waste.

After 17 people were killed in a Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., the state passed a first-of-its-kind law requiring armed security in every public school.

Idaho state superintendent Sherri Ybarra unveiled her own school security proposal in March — weeks after the Parkland shootings, and after consulting with Florida officials. The centerpiece of her controversial Keep Idaho Students Safe proposal is a grant program to allow schools to hire trained security staff.

Last week, Ybarra said she will seek $19.1 million to launch her initiative in 2018-19, with most of the money going into the grant program. The fate of the proposal is tied to the elections; the Republican Ybarra is seeking a second term in November, facing Democratic challenger Cindy Wilson.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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