Impediments prevent school districts from making safety recommendations

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school safety

Bob Gualtieri, sheriff of Pinellas County and Marjory Stoneman Douglas Commission chair,  issued an impassioned and exasperated plea Tuesday.

Gualtieri told state legislators unless school districts pick up the pace, they are risking another catastrophe.

“The legislature did its job,” Gualtieri said. “But the school districts, the school boards, law enforcement to some degree is not moving fast enough. The sense of urgency is not there.”

Gualtieri feels that school districts have “been playing games” with how recommendations are implemented. But the Lee County Superintendent Greg Adkins disagrees.

“I would disagree with the characterization that is being put out there,” Adkins said. “Because actually districts, I know this one, we hit the ground running.”

Among the changes, the commission mandated that every school has a safety officer.

The School District of Lee County has already met that requirement. But some of the other changes have proven more challenging to enact.

“Now we have a bit of a supply chain issue that we’re also struggling with,” Adkins said. “Video cameras is one example of that. Orders get backed up because literally, schools around the country are wanting the same technology.”

Another impediment is cost.

Making the changes in technology infrastructure could take years and millions of dollars. The School District of Lee County is asking for $3 million in grant money implement the changes.

“One of the things that legislation often does is it puts forward a recommendation without the funding to go with it,” Adkins said. “This funding allows us to actually fund the recommendation — the infrastructure changes that we need to make.”

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