New security measures begin as Lake County students return to school

School safety taxing measure to show up on August primary ballot

By Mark Lehman - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Students in Lake County returned to school Monday as the district began new security protocols to meet Florida's school safety mandate.

A major component of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act states that armed security must be in place on all public school campuses for the 2018-19 school year.

According to district leaders, 50 resource officers have been assigned to middle and high schools, as well as most elementary schools.

Seven hired security guards have been assigned to elementary schools where there is no resource officer, and nine trained administrators have volunteered as guardians at the schools where they work.

Lake County is one of a handful of school districts in Florida that allows volunteer administrators to act as armed responders if there is an active shooter incident.

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At Eustis Elementary School, parents reacted to the thought of having an administrator serving in the new role.

"They do have enough on their plate, but the number one priority is the kids' safety," Ashley Griffin said.

The state's new mandate requires that school guardians complete 132 hours of comprehensive firearm safety and proficiency training. According to the district, training was completed earlier this month.

"If the administrators are up for it and they had the training, I am for it," Eustis Elementary parent Alissa Scott said. "As long as they know what the responsibility is for it and they've done the proper work, I think it's a great idea, because not all the cops can get here in time."

The Lake County Sheriff's Office said its deputies also conducted active shooter training at Eustis High School over the summer.

As part of the training, deputies used a new computer program that allows easy access of detailed campus maps and floor plans.

"If they're not familiar with that school, they can open up the map on their smartphone and they can more easily and more quickly get there," Lt. John Herrell said.

On Aug. 28, a special school safety measure will be on the primary ballot, calling for a tax of 75 cents for each $1,000 of taxible property.

If passed, the measure would be used to fund school resource officers at every elementary school in Lake County.

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