The Broward County School Board has decided that staffing every school with armed personnel is the answer to gun violence. They took the action as a result of the February 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that claimed the lives of 14 students and three adult staff members. On Tuesday, the board voted unanimously to hire qualified personnel and assign them to schools which lack resource officers.
According to CNN, Broward County Superintendent Robert W. Runcie said that individuals like Nikolas Cruz shoulder the blame for these heinous crimes. It is up to school administrators to take action in order to prevent future incidents.
“I think it’s important for all of us to remember that Nikolas Cruz is responsible for this tragedy,” Superintendent Runcie said. “This level of violence is a national problem that school districts across the country are dealing with. Now is the time for us to all come together and stay focused on finding solutions.”
Effective this fall, the plan aims to hire, train, and place qualified personnel in every public school with the exception of charter schools. Applicants must have at minimum a high school diploma or GED, and at least two years of law enforcement experience. Each guard will also have to pass a psychological evaluation, have completed 132 hours of gun safety training, possess a valid concealed-carry license, and pass a drug test.
With less than two months before school starts on August 15 and access to limited financial resources, the Broward County School Board was forced to make a compromise on the qualifications of the armed guards. Rather than hire experienced, sworn-in members of law enforcement, they have opted for the more affordable option.
Salaries will fall within the range of $17 to $22 per hour which have been funded by an $8 million Safe Schools grant from the state of Florida. Broward County hopes to raise another $93 million in additional funding via a bond referendum that will be voted on in August.
Reactions to the new measure have been a mixed bag. Broward County school board member Robin Bartleman told the Miami Herald that while the compromise isn’t ideal, it is better than nothing at all.
“Honestly, it’s like putting Paul Blart the mall cop in a school with a gun,” Bartleman said. “I’d like to thank this board and staff for making it palatable.”
The Miami Herald reported that there is no plan in place at this time to address the needs of the district’s 93 charter schools. The board did not discuss their fate during their last meeting, but funding has been allocated to help them meet the new guidelines.