Sarasota County Schools announces 5-point safety and security plan following Parkland shooting

Posted at 6:19 PM, Mar 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-22 23:12:54-04

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. — The Sarasota County School District has announced a five-point plan to immediately provide short and long-term safety practices and capital improvements to enhance the security of its schools, students and staff.

The plan includes the following action items:

  1. Collaborate with local law enforcement to provide off-duty officers on 21 elementary school campuses through the end of the 2017 – 2018 school year. 
  2. Place School Resource Officers on all Sarasota County school campuses for the 2018 – 2019 school year.
  3. Invest $25 million in capital funds to enhance the physical and environmental structures of our schools.
  4. Strengthen the capacity of the internal Office of Safety, Security and Emergency Management department.
  5. Work with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office to explore a school guardian program.

“The school district’s top priority will be the implementation the district’s five-point safety plan as soon as possible to ensure the safety and well-being of our students and staff,” said Todd Bowden, superintendent of Sarasota County Schools. “We are fortunate to have incredible support from Sheriff Knight and our local municipal police departments and are grateful for their continued assistance. We look forward to additional discussions to develop an impactful plan long-term.”

“Since the Parkland tragedy, we have listened to our staff, students, school board members, parents and the community at large on this issue,” noted Bridget Ziegler, Sarasota County School Board chairman. “This is the first phase of many we will implement to ensure the safety of our students and staff, and we look forward to working with numerous stakeholders to make Sarasota County schools as safe as possible.”

The school district’s five-point plan comes at a time when school districts across Florida have responded to the passage of the state’s school safety bill to ensure the security of schools across the state. The school district’s total Safe Schools allocation from the state for the 2018 – 2019 school year is more than $2.4 million – that’s up from $950,00 this school year. Of the $2.4 million, 15 percent will be used to support charter schools in the district. 

In addition to this plan, the school district has earmarked more than $1 million to tackle mental and behavioral health issues, which will be addressed by the school board next month.