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Hillsborough elementary school students to see more school security

7:10 PM, Jan 3, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, FL- When Hillsborough students return to class on Monday, elementary school kids will see extra security on campus.

School officials say the heightened security comes as a result of last month's school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut where 26 people died, including 20 children.

School district officials say the added presence of sheriff deputies and police officers for the remainder of the school year will give the school district a chance to come up with a permanent solution to campus security at its 142 elementary schools, while keeping students safe.

Tampa Police officials say starting Monday, police officers will be present during arrival and dismissal of students. 

During the school days, officers patrolling a neighborhood will park at schools to write up reports, and police officers in plain clothing will also monitor campuses when not working a case. plus, all police officers will receive additional and extensive training in active shooter scenarios.

"Many officers are parents and the safety of their children is a priority. And anything [officers] can do to give a sense of comfort while dropping kids off, and keeping kid safe, is most important. That's why we are doing this; that's why we're taking these steps."  

The school district splits the cost for School Resource Officers (SROs) at middle and high schools with law enforcement agencies. The district pays $4 million a year for 76 school resource officers in its middle schools and high schools. 

Currently 20 elementary schools have SROs from other schools on standby in case of any trouble. 

Finding a way to pay for added security is a hurdle for the school district and law enforcement agencies. Police officials say the average SROs salary costs about $60,000.

Hillsborough parents will receive an automated phone call on Sunday explaining the district's plans. Other school districts in the bay area have said money may stand in the way of adding police officers and deputies at elementary schools.

Isabel Mascarenas

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