Survey points to support for arming school employees

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A majority of Floridians believe "trained staff" should be able to carry firearms on school grounds, according to the latest data from the Sunshine State Survey conducted by the University of South Florida and The Nielsen Company.

Among those polled, 56 percent favor some school employees having guns, while 40 percent oppose it.

Floridians also overwhelmingly support requiring elementary schools to give students 20 minutes of recess each day; 81 percent said doing so would be a step in the right direction.

The Florida House approved a bill earlier this year with the recess requirement, but the proposal died in the Senate.

Support for more school choice earned the support of 58 percent of Floridians, essentially unchanged from the last two years, while 57 percent of those surveyed said the state's education system is at least "moderately successful" at getting students ready for the economy.

However, 40 percent said it was "not very successful," an increase of 10 percentage points from a year ago.

The survey data released Tuesday also shows that a majority of Floridians, 57 percent, support increasing the smoking age from 18 to 21; 83 percent oppose government funding for sports stadiums for privately-owned teams; and a plurality of 47 percent support accepting federal funding to expand Medicaid.

One of the most popular ideas in the poll was increasing fines for texting while driving, something that 87 percent of those surveyed said would be a step in the right direction.

The 2016 Sunshine State Survey interviewed 1,248 Florida residents from Sept. 1 to Sept. 19, with a margin of error of 2.77 percentage points. The poll results are rolled out over a period of time; the release on education, health care and transportation is the fourth so far.

A fifth batch of results, focused on issues like state leadership and trust in government, is set to be released next week.

News Service of Florida