Hillsborough discusses school security funding options

- The Hillsborough County School Board may have to cut jobs ahead of next school year. Board members are trying to figure out how to pay for the new, mandated school security without enough money. 

"It has become a highest priority of discussion, all the way across the board," said Sally Harris, the school board's chair. 

Like many districts across the state, the Hillsborough County School Board is trying to come up with a plan to pay for security at each of its schools.

The county is expected to receive a $6.5-million increase in its Safe Schools Allocation, but says it needs $4-million more to pay for a resource officer at every school. It's now required under the newly signed Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. 

"Hillsborough County, unlike some other counties, already has in place a security team," said school board member Cindy Stuart. "We're trying to figure out how they can potentially weave into this process and maybe accommodate some of the legislation." 

"Whether or not we're going to be involved in a guardianship program, whether we're going to have officers in place, we're going to use our school board officers; all of that is being discussed at this point," added Harris.  

And that's all the school board can really do at this point is discuss. It's waiting on the state to provide more guidance on how to spend money allocated, especially when it comes to the mental health portion of the legislation.

"The wellness piece, the mental health piece, is going to be a pretty big lift, and again, the details on that are still very, very sketchy," said Stuart. 

First, though, Superintendent Jeff Eakins hopes to have an officer plan within the next few weeks. Talks are still ongoing between the school board and the sheriff's office and police department. 

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