I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.
Thursday, March 1, 2018
Where Should the 1st 50% Go?
With an intense focus on school safety happening statewide in the wake of Parkland--all eyes nationwide are on Florida. Everyone is watching what happens next.
Governor Scott has put forth some solid proposals that have garnered support from stakeholders around the state. But the tricky detail is funding. Where will the continuing funding come from if we are to put a SRO or an armed and trained professional security guard in every Florida school? (There are 3,223 schools statewide)
I strongly support this plan but funding must be considered. the $400 Million will not cover the costs-not even for this year.
According to Superintendent of Schools Malcolm Thomas, the allocation from the Governor's proposed fund for Escambia County schools will only be an additional $1Million dollars in the safe schools allocation, bringing this to a total of roughly $2.2 Million. Thomas has stated that this amount is insufficient to even cover half of the schools in Escambia County with Armed security or SROs this year. so it is an unfunded mandate coming right out of the gate....and if required going forward but not funded--we could be looking at an unfunded mandate in the out years that would be ultimately absorbed by Counties throughout the state.
To mitigate this to some degree--or to create the beginning of a dedicated, recurring revenue stream to pay for these resource officers--I will be bringing the following proposal to send to our legislative delegation tonight:
Make the first 50% of all Law Enforcement Trust Funds statewide be obligated automatically to pay for SRO's or armed professional security guards in Florida County Schools. Right now, SROs are an allowable expense for LET funds--however as we see in Escambia County and other places--these funds are often not utilized for SRO's. Often times these funds are spent supporting non-profits and advertising. As an example--on tonight's agenda we are being asked to fund the following from Escambia County's LET Fund:
A. AFCEA Blue Angels Pensacola Chapter, in the amount of $25,000;
B. Hadji Shriners, in the amount of $5,000;
C. Panhandle Charitable Open, in the amount of $30,000; (Golf tournament supporting multiple charitable non-profits)
D. Pensacola Mess Hall, in the amount of $5,000;
E. FavorHouse of Northwest Florida, Inc., in the amount of $12,000;
F. Pensacola Little Theatre, Inc., in the amount of $6,000;
G. Christian Surfers, in the amount of $5,000;
H. Pensacola Opera, Inc., in the amount of $5,000; and
I. Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, in the amount of $2,000.
Are these really the BEST places to allocate these LET funds?
So why not take the first 50% statewide and ensure, by statute, that we use this source of public funding for the most important cause--protecting schools and children! If the law is changed, this will happen; it will no longer be a question of if SRO's and/or armed professional security guards at every Florida School will be fully funded--they will be funded or at least the funding for these officers in part will come from a dedicated, recurring source that is not additional taxpayer funds!