Port Charlotte, Fla. - Tuesday's shooting near Atlanta has many wondering what procedures are in place to keep your kids safe at school. One district in Southwest Florida is making sure armed guards are in place to keep events like these from happening. It's been a subject of debate for years but especially since December when over two dozen kids and teachers were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
It's rare where the high schools, middle schools and elementary schools all have cops on campus but that's what's going to happen in a few weeks in Charlotte County. "Used to be the education of the child was the most important and now, the reality of the world, is the safety of the child is the most important thing," said Mike Riley, the Communications Director for the Charlotte County School District.
Beginning October 1, all 17 schools in the Charlotte County School District will have cops on campus. "We had resource officers in each high school and middle school and then three resource officers shared the ten elementary schools," added Riley. "We just felt that we needed to do more for the kids."
So, how did they do this when other school districts can't? He says the answer is, a lot of preparation and a lot of grant money, "We've been looking at this for several years and Sheriff Prummell and Chief Arnell really worked hard to make this happen. I think that they did a lot of research and a lot of study to get that."
Exactly how much is it costing the Charlotte County School District? "We pay 34% for each officer and our cost is going to be $350,000. The sheriff's department picks up the rest and then the Punta Gorda Police Department picks up their part. They are going to hire one officer and the sheriff's department will hire eight."
When it goes into effect there will be patrol cars parked right in front of each school. "I would say that would deter anyone," noted Riley. "If you see one parked alongside the road you slow down."
But that line of thinking has done nothing but slow down in Lee County as commissioners have said there's no money for cops in schools. Sheriff Mike Scott has disagreed. "Listen, we're building fountains, we're building ball fields, we're building all kinds of things all over the place, okay? We can focus for sure on enhancing the safety and security on our schools and we should."
In fact, currently the county is trying to lure the Washington Nationals to City of Palms Park for spring training and is also looking at renovating Hammond Stadium, the spring training home of the Minnesota Twins and the home of the Fort Myer's Miracle.
Back to the schools, there are 11 cops on campus for the 22 elementary schools in Lee County.
What do you think? Would you be willing to pay more to have resource officers in every elementary school in other counties? Call us at 239-206-Fox-4. Or send us an email to www.news@Fox4now.com.