Two Florida Senate committees will discuss ideas to improve school safety and security in Tallahassee this week.
It’s an issue that is suddenly considered a priority for lawmakers.
Districts have been reviewing their security procedures since 26 people were killed – most of them students – inside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. last month.
The Senate Education Committee convenes Tuesday to start work on what kind of safety changes are needed in Florida’s school districts.
On Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education will look at the cost of upgrading security.
The “Safe Schools” fund spends close to $70 million a year on security. The money mainly pays for school resource officers in middle and high schools.
The Legislature will be asked to significantly increase that amount to pay for other security measures.
Dr. Wayne Blanton with the Florida School Boards Association said, “It will be in excess of $100 million” — an additional $30 million or so.
Blanton says he’s heard suggestions like adding panic buttons in classrooms, installing sturdier windows, and making sure all classroom doors lock from the inside.
School entry is also a big concern. District leaders plan to ask for help upgrading entry gates and surveillance cameras.