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Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Broward County (Fla.) district bolsters school security for 2019-20

District has heightened its focus on student safety since the 2018 shooting attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

The Broward County (Fla.) district is bolstering security for the 2019-20 school year with hundreds of new employees to protect students.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that the district plans to add about 500 security personnel — including armed guardians and unarmed security specialists and monitors — to the existing staff of 745.

The plan includes beefing up unarmed security in elementary schools and armed guardians in high schools and large middle schools.

The new positions are funded mostly through a referendum passed by taxpayers last year that raises $93 million a year for four years. Most of the money will pay for teacher raises, but $19 million will be used for security, and $8 million will pay for additional guidance counselors, social workers and nurses.

Security has become a top issue for the district since the Febraury 2018 shooting attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 dead. At the time, the 3,200-student campus had only one police officer, and he failed confront the shooter. The school has had several officers on campus since the shooting.

Every school is to be assigned at least one police officer or armed guardian for every 1,000 students. 

The district’s plan calls for:

  • Nearly double the number of armed guardians, from 47 to 93.
  • More than twice as many unarmed campus security monitors, from 328 to 686. Many will be placed in elementary schools, which until now have had no unarmed security officials.
  • An increase of 48 security specialists, bringing the total up to 196. These are unarmed security personnel who are higher paid and have more leadership responsibilities than monitors.
  • School police officers would remain at 197.

Another 25 armed security and 50 unarmed personnel will be part of a floater pool to fill any absences; they also may be assigned to schools where there is chatter on social media about something problematic.

The district is allocating $1.3 million to charter schools so they can get additional armed security. The amount each school would get is still being determined.

District officials say they continue to make physical security enhancements, too, including more video surveillance cameras, upgraded intercoms and improvements to radio communications.

All schools are expected to have single points of entry for the new school year. These are gates and fences that limit access to only the front office.

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