How the Orange County School Board plans to address school safety

School safety report presented, following memorial for Parkland victims

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orange County School Board meeting Tuesday night will open up with memorial for the 17 victims killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14. Following the memorial, the school board will nail down details of the district's strategic school security plan. 

"We were due for one on security," said Scott Howat, chief communications officer for Orange County Public Schools. "This was moved up, obviously, to give a high-level overview and talk about some of those things we are doing."

Orange County School Board members open the Feb. 27, 2018 meeting with a memorial to the 17 Parkland school shooting victims.
Orange County School Board members open the Feb. 27, 2018 meeting with a memorial to the 17 Parkland school shooting victims.

Howat said the security plan is a continuation of efforts put forth by the district following the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012. In 2014, the district hired a school safety consulting firm, which conducted a districtwide safety, security and emergency management assessment. In response, several changes were were made on overall emergency preparedness and security profile.

District records show that in 2015, the district created its own police force, which acts as a liaison between several partnering law enforcement agencies, including Orlando police, the Orange County Sheriff's Office, Maitland police and Apopka police.

that is one of several topics Howat said will be discussed at Tuesday's school board meeting. 

"I think we will talk about the agencies we collaborate with," Howat said. "They are going to talk about the high-level side of just hardening facilities and (the) general idea of what that is and what the cost associated with that will be." 

He said hardening the district's 191 school campuses, from adding more fencing to video monitoring,  is a pivatol part of the discussion tonight.

"That's the focal point for us -- to make sure that there is a secured single point of entry at all of our schools," Howat said.

The district's plan will require more school resource officers, or SROs. The plan Gov. Rick Scott announced last week included having one SRO per 1,000 students.

Right now, Howat said, on average, Orange County has one SRO per four elementary schools, one for every middle school and one for every high school. To meet Scott's requirement of one officer per 1,000 students OCPS would need to hire 107 SROs, which would cost $4.5 million.

"At one per 1,000 and, if you are assuming that every school under 1,000 would get at least one,  then you are talking about a large increase of law enforcement individuals into those schools," said Howat. "Our concern is, obviously, the funding piece. It could cost in excess of $4 million to get those ratios to that level."

Tuesday's OCPS school board meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. Click here, to see the presentation on the district's school safety report.

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