A new state program approved by the legislature and green-lighted by Governor Rick Scott permits the arming of school teachers and staff. But the Palm Beach County School Board has voted not to participate in the program, opting instead to continue with armed school police officers. The district will also comply with specific measures in order to gain their part of Florida state safety and mental health monies.
Deciding not to take part in the teacher-arming program, named for Parkland shooting victim Coach Aaron Feis, means that the district will have no access to any part of the $67 million allocated for training school personnel through county sheriff’s departments.
According to published articles, the school board is hoping that if very few Florida counties choose to participate in the plan, schools may be allowed to use the money for alternative security purposes.
Palm Beach County will take full advantage of their portion of the $6 million set aside to place a police officer in every school, including charter schools. The move will likely increase the county’s needs by another 75 police officers.
The district will also use their allotment of the $4.1 million intended to improve mental health care in schools.
As part of the requirements of the new state law, the Palm Beach County School Board decided to direct up to $45,000 toward a consultant to assess school security countywide. The county is required to have the assessment completed by August 1 in order to tap into the $99 million available for making safety improvements to school buildings.
The law also requires the district to undergo a threat assessment performed in each school by September 1. The district intends to comply within the time frame.