Following committee hearings on mass gun violence and school safety, Senator Janet Cruz (D-Tampa) has re-filed legislation to allow local school districts who have not opted in the Guardian Program to request the leftover funding for general school safety spending. This money could then be spent on salaries for School Resource Officers, school hardening, and other safety improvements.
“To date, there are twenty-nine Florida counties that have not opted into the Guardian program and have chosen instead to place a trained law enforcement officer in their schools,” said Senator Janet Cruz. “Last year, the Florida Legislature rolled over $57 million that was specifically allocated for the Guardian Program but went unused by our local school districts. Although more counties did choose to participate in the Guardian Program this year, there is still $40 million being held hostage due to ideological differences on school safety. That money should not sit idle while our school districts struggle to find the funding to improve their school hardening, hire more School Resource Officers, and actively work to find innovative solutions to protect Florida’s children.”
Senator Cruz’s comments echo the concerns of Senate President Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton), who said last week that he wants the Senate to work on clarifying the school safety law, which outlines the training requirements for armed school personnel, including classroom teachers. President Galvano’s comments are in reference to the legal issues between Palm Beach County Schools and a private company hired by the district to train armed guardians for charter schools. Invictus, Inc. is alleged to have passed Guardian Program attendees that failed shooting tests. The company was paid over $60,000 despite this alleged malpractice.
“The issues we have seen with the Guardian Program are unacceptable,” Senator Cruz stated. “Regardless of whether you support arming classroom teachers or not, this continuous misuse of state tax dollars while so many Florida school districts are digging for pennies to protect their students must end. We can do better, and we must start by allowing this leftover funding to be used by our school districts to keep our children safe as soon as possible.”