Hillsborough County schools won't have armed guards -- for now

11:36 PM, Jan 15, 2013   |    comments
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TAMPA, Florida - Hillsborough County schools will not have armed guards at every school next year, at least not yet. On Tuesday evening, the school board voted down the superintendent's $4 million plan.

School board member Candy Olson said, "There were two armed officers on the campus of Columbine. Ronald Reagan had at least four police officers and a whole bunch of secret service agents, all of whom were armed, and he was shot."

One by one, school board members explained their hesitation. Several said they have a lot of unanswered questions over putting armed officers at Hillsborough County's elementary schools.

The idea that the money to pay for it all could possibly come out of the contingency fund was also a top concern, especially in light of recent budget cuts. School board member Cindy Stuart said, "We have cut nursing, we've cut psychology, we've cut career counselors."

Here's what the board decided:

  • Failed: The school superintendent's $3.7 million a year plan to put armed resource officers in elementary schools
  • Passed: $8,500 to hire an outside school security expert to review the district's facilities
  • Failed: An estimated $1.2 million to eliminate security gaps that come up during that review
  •  Failed: The $700,000 cost that the Tampa Police Department and Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office would have needed to step up their already enhanced presence at elementary schools through the end of this school year

The idea of continuing to talk about security at schools did not fail, though, and school board members say they're not done with the issue. They say they just want more time to make the right decisions.

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