At least $100M more in school safety funding sought in Fla.


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A shooting at an Atlanta area middle school Thursday and the killing of an Alabama school bus driver and the kidnapping of a 6-year-old off the bus has Florida school officials concerned the state is not doing enough to fund school safety.

Florida Schools Boards Association had asked for up to $200 million for safety, enough money to put an armed officer in every school. But Gov. Rick Scott, in announcing his budget priorities, is suggesting just $10.5 million more than the $64 million a year Florida currently spends on safe school initiatives.

The increase is just five cents on the dollar of what Florida's 67 school boards were seeking.

"We're going to be asking the Legislature for at least over $100 million more," say Wayne Blanton, of Florida School Boards. "Our commitment is to put a uniformed officer in every school, and that's going to cost in the range somewhere around $150-$160 million.

The association is currently surveying each district to find out what is in place and what's needed.

"We've got to do a lot of things to our schools," Blanton said. "We got to renovate some old schools so we have a better line of sight, and we've got to put more surveillance cameras in old schools than in new schools."

State Sen. Bill Montford, who represents all of the school superintendents, said the need for school safety funding is only going increase.

"But I think it's going to get to be so expensive that we're going to have to have a total comprehensive look at not only what we need but how we will fund it," said Montford, D-Tallahassee.

About 5,000 weapons were found in Florida schools in the 2010-11 school year. Of those, 270 were guns.

Florida's budget at $74.2 billion this year is the largest in state history. But even supporters of spending more on school safety say it will come at the expense of something else in the education budget.