The school district that includes Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., has opted out of a state program that would train certain school employees to carry guns.
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that the Broward County School Board voted not to take part in a state program that provides $67 million for some school employees to be armed.
The Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, passed last month by the Florida Legislature, was named for the Stoneman Douglas football coach who was killed, along with 16 others in a Feb. 14 shooting attack at the school.
School Board members voiced their objection to giving guns to school employees.
“This would mean more guns, the purchase of more guns, the legalization of more guns and more guns brought from the community into schools,” Board member Rosalind Osgood says.
So far, none of the 10 largest school districts in Florida have indicated any interest in arming anyone on school campuses other than law enforcement.
The initial proposal would have allowed classroom teachers to be armed, but opposition killed that plan. Instead, the law allows librarians, administrators, coaches, ROTC instructors and others to have weapons. The employees must undergo 132 hours of firearms training.
The School Board says it would rather see the state use some of the money to hire more school police officers.
“To leave $67 million on the table is a travesty,” School Board member Robin Bartleman says. “For those districts that don’t want to arm employees, they should give us money to keep children safe in other ways.”
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said in a letter to superintendents he plans to redirect any unused money to the hiring of school resource officers.
However, hiring more officers also may prove to be a challenge. District lawyer Barbara Myrick says she’s been told there aren't enough officers graduating from academies to handle the need.
Board members also discussed whether to hire armed security officers but couldn’t come to an agreement.
Superintendent Robert Runcie has announced the district will hold a community forum next week on school safety and security.