Schools To Get Extra Deputies

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.- A new district budget was approved Tuesday at a Leon County School Board meeting.

The $498 million district budget will include funds that will pay to place an armed resource officer at every elementary school. Before approval, board members debated how to spend the $350,000 that would be going towards extra law-enforcement officials.

The vote made Superintended Jackie Pons emotional about the decision. Before the vote the district was already spending $1.5 millions on its school resource program with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office. With that money there wasn’t a deputy at every elementary school though. The deputies that will be put at each school will have the authority to arrest students in crucial situations.

Other board members shared Pons feelings about the vote. They felt the funds could have been spent in a better way and would have liked to have seen the funds go towards teachers and classrooms. Other suggestions included in the debate had been bumping substitute teachers pay $3 and hour, which would cost $500,00 for the year, and adding more counselors to help the schools “close the achievement gay,” according to Joy Bowen.

When board members motioned to overturn the initiative they were opposed 4 to 1.

On the public side of things, Roger Pinholster, a retired educator, suggested that teachers have more say in the funding decisions. He also addressed cost-saving measures such as teacher retirement, summer expenses at the district office and planning in-service days at individual schools.

Members did acknowledge those were areas that needed to be looked into. Board chair DeeDee Rasmussen said certain amendments to the budget could be looked at throughout the year.

Rasmussen also explained her effort to bring about a budget review process to maybe cut costs or use resources better. Her revisions are part of the district’s “strategic plan” that is up for review at the upcoming board meeting.