Volusia County School Board approves new security model

Adding school guardians could cost up to $3.6 million

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – The Volusia County School Board on Tuesday voted to create a new security model that will call for the hiring of 38 school guardians and 32 school resource officers staffed in middle and high schools. 

The board approved the new security measure in a 4-1 vote, and the hiring process will start on Wednesday. 

The vote was held in order to determine how the district will be keeping children safe in schools under the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, or SB 7026.

The 38 school guardians can carry weapons but the authority to make arrests.

Two other options were considered by the board.

One of those other options would have called for 49 school guardians, including six substitutes, to be placed in larger high schools. 

The other option would have called for the hiring of 55 school guardians and for school resource officers at middle and high schools.

"All three come with a hefty price tag," said Greg Akin, chief operating officer for Volusia County Schools. "So, anywhere from $3.2 million to $3.6 million."

Akin said the guardians will be all new hires and will undergo 132 hours of extensive training by the Sheriff's Office and 12 hours of diversity training.

Sheriff Mike Chitwood said he's focusing on candidates who are retired officers and retired military personnel.

"They'll be hired by the school board. They'll be vetted by the Sheriff's Office. They'll be trained by the Sheriff's Office. They will not have the power of arrest and they will be armed," Chitwood said. "Our plan is to start training later on in the month, the first 22-25 of these individuals, and then, sometime in July, train the next 22-25 to get us ready for the school year."

Akin said no matter which option the board approved, it was going to cost the district money it doesn't have, but the school district and the Sheriff's Office said it's worth it.

"We're talking about school safety for our children and our teachers. How can you put a price on that?" Chitwood said.

People can start applying for the armed guardian position starting Wednesday. The first class of guardians will be trained on or around June 25. The district must meet the mandate by Aug.13.

About the Author:

Loren Korn is a native Texan who joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2014. She was born and raised in Houston and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Journalism.