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.

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