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Clay County commissioners agree to chip in $2.1M for school resource officers

Struggle to fully fund initiative still far from over

Sheriff Darryl Daniels speaks to Clay County commissioners at a board meeting Tuesday evening.

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – In an effort to make schools safer, the Clay County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night approved more than $2 million in funding to put armed resource officers in every public school.

But even with that funding, it still won't be enough. 

Florida’s new law requiring a school resource officer or other trained, armed person at each school by August has presented local leaders with challenges, including how to pay for the extra manpower. 

Clay County hopes collaboration will be the solution, but not everyone agrees on a solution.

"We may not be on the same page, but we are on the same page with the mission," Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels said during the County Commission meeting Tuesday evening. "The mission is to keep the children of Clay County and teachers and administrations in these schools safe."

The new law requires the officers to be in place by the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, but Daniels said that's just not possible.

"We will not have SROs in school at the beginning of the school year because I can’t hire that many people on this year’s budget when I was not prepared to hire that many people," the sheriff said.

The problem is the money isn't there.

But Tuesday evening, commissioners took steps to have the county pitch in. 

The sheriff is requesting $4.5 million to fund school resource officers for the upcoming school year.

Clay County commissioners voted to approve a one-time allocation of $2.1 million -- $1.8 million in capital funding and $300,000 in operational funding.

But the struggle to fully fund the initiative is still far from over. The Board of Commissioners wants the Clay County School District to pay the rest of the $4.5 million requested by Daniels.

The state is offering some funding for the program, but that is only for the first year.

The Clay County Sheriff's Office will next have to deal with the issue of hiring the officers, training them and getting them in place for the upcoming school year.