LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - Certain administrators at Lake County schools will soon be permitted to carry guns on campus after a school board vote Monday night.
The change will be made as part of the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, or guardian program for short, which was established after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Feb. 14.
Administrators will be chosen for the guardian program on a volunteer basis and will need to meet training requirements before they are able to serve as armed responders on campus.
School Board Chairman Stephanie Luke and other school board members voted in support of the measure during a meeting Monday night.
"When I think of my son or daughter sitting in a classroom and the SRO (school resource officer) defense has gone down… there's nothing I wouldn't want anyone on that campus to have to keep my child safe," Luke said.
School board member Bill Mathias also voted in favor.
"Evil exists and we have an obligation to protect our kids," Mathias said.
Other school board members felt that arming administrators might not be the best option.
"I'm very concerned about the potential for unintended consequences," school board member Kristi Burns said.
An informal poll found that 30 Lake County administrators were interested in participating in the program. Teachers would be excluded from participating.
Superintendent Diane Kornegay recommended support for the program but said that she would prefer to have a law enforcement officer at every school, but the district doesn't currently have the funding to have them in place by the time the new school year starts.
There is at least one officer at every middle and high school in Lake County but none in elementary schools.
"Whether one agrees or disagrees with the guardian program, we must comply with the law and without the needed funding and the people to fill positions, we must consider every available option," Kornegay said.
Talks are underway between Lake County school officials and local law enforcement agencies to find ways of sharing the costs to add officers in every school.
During Monday's meeting, the board also voted unanimously to ask Lake County commissioners to place a referendum on this year's ballot for approval of a 0.75 mill ad valorem millage tax that would $16 million for student safety measures including hiring more social workers, counselors, nurses and more.
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