Money provided by state isn't enough to cover SROs needed, school board says

$8 million to go toward school resource officers in Broward County

By Ian Margol - Reporter

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. - With the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School fresh in their minds, Florida legislators passed several bills aimed at helping school districts protect against from another attack.

But according to members of the Broward County School board, the money provided by the new legislation isn't enough to cover some of the major things they're being required to change.

Inside a meeting room in Fort Lauderdale Tuesday, the school board met with an expert to crunch the numbers.

After the shooting at Stoneman Douglas, state leaders passed a series of laws that are supposed to help school district employees protect their students.

The state allocated millions of dollars to make facilities safer, construct a new building to replace the one where the shooting happened and create a permanent memorial for the victims.

The state also included another $8 million for Broward County to spend on bringing in school resource officers, with many state leaders saying there should be one SRO for every school. 

While Superintendent Robert Runcie says that is a goal, he also says it isn't enough and that the district should rather have one SRO for every 1,000 students.

"Cypress Bay has nearly close to 5,000 students," he said. "They should probably have five resource officers. There's no way that we should have the same level of support at Cypress Bay as we do at an elementary school with 600 students."

The school district's SRO program works like a partnership. The district pays about half of what it costs for each officer, and the other half is covered by either the Broward Sheriff's Office, or the other municipalities that have their own police departments, like Fort Lauderdale or Hollywood.

The school district already spends about $7.7 million on the officers currently in Broward County public schools, so if they start spending $8 million more, Runcie says that means their partners are going to have to spend more as well.

"Where are they going to get that money? That's one big issue, so there is a funding gap," Runcie said. 

Another issue is that there aren't enough officers to go around. The superintendent says there are hundreds of vacancies for police officers in Broward County alone, and the departments simply don't have the manpower to keep up with what the state is mandating.

District officials have asked the state to consider allowing them to use the money allocated for arming teachers or other trained staff for paying for SROs instead.

According to school district officials, with the new legislation, they were given $6.3 million less than what's required by expenditures.
 

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