Duval school officials said they were caught off guard by city and police officials’ plans to charge the district for the full overtime costs of providing police officers to elementary schools.
Our Florida Times-Union news partner reports several school board members at a meeting Tuesday said they were under the impression that the sheriff’s office was “partnering” with the district to overcome an emergency need for armed personnel at schools, which opened Aug. 13. They’re now balking at having to pay for officers’ overtime, which the Jacksonville Sheriff's office said was about $214,200last week.
“It kind of took a little air out of the balloon,” said Board Vice Chairwoman Lori Hershey. “I was thinking that this was more of a partnership. I wasn’t thinking we might be hit with a cost.”
Superintendent Diana Greene said school officials will meet soon with police officials to hammer out total costs for this school year. Until then, she had no estimates or projections.
School Board Chairwoman Paula Wright said that school safety isn’t just a district issue. "My understanding from the superintendent was that the sheriff was trying to help the community by providing the officers,” she said. “So we need to help the community understand that education is all of our responsibility, and safety is a community issue; it’s not just a district issue.”
Duval, like most Florida school districts, has struggled to comply with a new state law that requires it to station police or other armed “guardian” personnel at every school campus to deter potential intruders. The law was a reaction to the Valentine’s Day shooting at a Parkland high school which left 17 students dead and 17 injured.
The state shifted some money to school safety, but many districts, including Duval, say it wasn’t enough. Duval’s school board recently made the controversial decision to create “school safety assistants,” who would get concealed weapons and training and be paid $12.50 an hour to patrol its elementary schools.