Hillsborough County School Board to vote on armed security for elementary students

Superintendent pitches plan for 130 armed guards

TAMPA - "They didn't know how it would affect them when they came back to school," said mom Sheri Bryant.

Stand in the hallway at Oak Grove Elementary School in Tampa and picture yourself as a 9-year old, a 4th grader, after what happened in Newtown, Connecticut.

"He looked forward to coming to school and I want to make sure this stays a safe environment for him to come to and that he always feels safe. Every kid should feel safe in school," she continued.

In just days, school board members will vote on a new plan to put armed security guards in every elementary school across Hillsborough County. 

Bryan says she hopes they support it.

"Bad guys have guns, so good guys need guns," she said.

The superintendent of the largest school district in the state says within just two months she hopes to hire, train, and put 130 armed security guards on-duty.  That's in addition to the school resource officers and deputies who already work there.

"The first day, kids might wonder who it is or something, but I would assume there will be an introduction," said Bridgitte Kramer, President Hillsborough County PTA.

The extra security would cost $2 million, which will come from the district's contingency fund.

But the next year, costs would go up to nearly $4 million, including the officer's equipment and that money would have to come from the regular school year budget.

"At this time, there is not additional funding from Washington and Tallahassee, although there may be.  At this time, our projection is that we'll be funding the program," said Superintendent Mary Ellen Elia.

You can count on the security issue being a hot topic this Spring in Tallahassee. The superintendent says she's already reaching out to lawmakers -- both state and federal -- to keep schools safe for the kids who walk them.

"The security of our kids has to be our top priority. Having them in a safe environment has to be our top priority and if that means at some point we're going to have to pay an additional penny on the dollar somewhere then we still have to look at that," said Bryan.

The School Board will take up the issue on Tuesday and the public is invited to comment.

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