ORLANDO, Fla. – In light of recent information that $58 million dollars remains in the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program fund that will go unused if not reallocated, the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence and education partners call on the Joint Legislative Budget Commission to agree to disburse these funds for districts to hire School Resource Officers (SROs) when they meet on September 14th. The Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program is part of the larger Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act signed by Governor Rick Scott at the end of the 2018 Legislative Session.
“Local districts statewide are struggling to pay for school security while the $58 million that could be used to hire police officers for schools remains locked down in Tallahassee,” said Joanne McCall, president of the Florida Education Association. “The members of the Joint Legislative Budget Commission have the power to move the money to districts but have not yet acted. From the outside looking in, it appears these lawmakers care more about scoring political points than about protecting the children of Florida.”
Currently, 71 out of the 75 Florida school districts need additional school safety funding. If these funds are not allocated soon they will remain mired in Tallahassee, thereby risking the safety of our students, staff, and administrators. Members of the Joint Legislative Budget Commission need to act swiftly and re-allocate the Guardian Program funds under the auspices of the Department of Education’s Office of Safe Schools.
“School Resource Officers (SROs) are trained law enforcement. They are the ones best equipped to handle violence on campus — not school staff or private security guards,” said Patricia Brigham, president of the LWV of Florida. “We encourage the Legislative Budget Commission to reallocate the funds necessary for hiring more SROs for our schools.”
“Governor Scott has asked each member of the Joint Legislative Budget Commission to re-allocate these unused funds.” said Florida PTA President, Linda Kearschner. “The Legislative Budget Commission needs to listen and act. These funds need to be used to protect our children this year.”