April 11 (UPI) — The school board of Broward County, where a gunman murdered 17 students and teachers at a high school in February, rejected funds from a state program to arm teachers Tuesday night.
The Broward School Board is entitled to a portion of a $67 million plan to train and arm teachers called the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, which was named after a coach who died protecting students during the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. But school board members heavily criticized the program.
“This would mean more guns, the purchase of more guns, the legalization of more guns and more guns brought from the community into schools,” Broward School Board member Rosalind Osgood said, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
Instead, the school board requested that its share of the program money be used to hire more police officers, WLRN radio reported.
“To leave $67 million on the table is just a travesty,” said school board member Robin Bartleman. “We should definitely launch a campaign to persuade the governor – for those districts who don’t want to arm their employees, that they give us the money to keep our children safe in other ways, as opposed to leaving it there.”
Broward isn’t the only school board in Florida that has voiced opposition to arming teachers. Last month, officials in 10 of the state’s largest school districts said they won’t accept funds from the program.
In Leon County, which includes the state capital of Tallahassee, the school board signed a resolution against arming teachers.
“The Leon County School Board will not be arming teachers,” Leon County school board chair Alva Striplin said at the time. “Our job is to educate children. And to keep them safe. And to follow the law. And that’s what we’re going to do.”
Like Broward, other school districts have requested more money to place more police officers in schools.
The state legislature voted to increase funds for more school resource officers by nearly $100 million last month. But a report from the Florida Association of District School Superintendents said that might not be enough to place a police officer at each of Florida’s 3,500 public elementary, middle and high schools.
“We appreciate the legislative appropriations, but many districts will have difficulty meeting the requirement to establish or assign one (or) more safe-school officers at each school facility,” the association said in a report.