Putting Education Reform To The Test

Florida School Board Leader Supports More School Security, Opposes Arming Teachers

Steve Newborn / WUSF

Florida lawmakers will have to ask themselves how much security the state can afford for schools.

Reinforced entry gates.

School resource officers in elementary schools.

Teachers with guns.

Politicians, pundits and school officials have tossed around ideas how to beef up security since the horrific school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut last month.

The Florida Legislature will be asked to increase security funding for school districts when it convenes in March.

Dr. Wayne Blanton, Executive Director of the Florida School Boards Association, says the funding will be a big point of discussion among lawmakers.

Blanton talked about school security with News Service of Florida.

“We are looking at more officers on campus. Many of our districts have already put uniformed police officers at elementary schools,” Blanton said.

The association is now working with school districts on improved crisis training and examining how schools are constructed.

Blanton said they will consider using a different type of glass for school windows and adding locks to classroom doors that don’t currently lock from the inside.

“Maybe we need panic buttons in classrooms,” he said. “There are a lot of things that we can do right now that cost very little to help our safety measures.”

The districts have money set aside for security.

More than $64 million was appropriated to the “Safe Schools” fund for 2012-13.The money has been primarily used for School Resource Officers in middle and high schools.


Florida Schools Boards Association Executive Director Wayne Blanton.

“The safety of our students is the number one priority of our public schools, and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure our schools are even safer than they are now,” Blanton said.

A few districts are proposing asking voters for a sales tax increase to cover additional safety measures. Blanton wants to wait and see if the Legislature can come up with the additional dollars.

“I will tell you it’s going to be expensive. It will be in excess of $100 million.”

Blanton thinks there’s enough support for the Safe Schools fund to receive a substantial increase next year.

As for the idea of arming teachers in the classroom, Blanton said, “We will not be supporting teachers having the ability to carry weapons on campus.”

Blanton said teachers serve as role models and shouldn’t be walking around with a weapon in front of impressionable young people. He does, however, support uniformed police officers at schools.


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