Manatee schools short $1.3 million for SRO mandate

- The clock is ticking for the Manatee County School District.  Tuesday, Manatee County commissioners turned down the district’s request for additional funding for school resource officers.

Now they have to go a different route, but they need to come up with an idea sooner rather than later.

"I pay money to protect my children. Don't throw my kids under the bus,” Manatee County resident Cynthia Keller said. "Whatever it is. Find the money because it can happen here." 

As Cynthia Keller asked for help, Manatee County commissioners insisted they just don’t have the money.

“I feel like we've been put in a really tough position here and that you're asking us to go fund you," Manatee Co. Commissioner Stephen Jonsson said.

The county pays nearly $900,000 each year to pay for school resource officers, but the district now needs an extra $1.3 million to pay for more than 30 deputies – one for every school.

The need for the extra SROs is part of a new state law put into place following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School killings.  

“We can't cut different things just because we are going to help you with this. We have many people that we have to answer to," Manatee Co. Commissioner Vanessa Baugh.

Commissioners say the school district should look elsewhere for the money.

“This is not the only request I have for funding as a county commissioner to help the children. I am still saying, school board, you need to go back to the legislature and get that money to plug this hole," said Manatee Co. Commissioner Betsy Benac.

In the end, the school board left, empty-handed and still up against a tight deadline.

“Even though we are closing down the school year, we are gearing up for next school year,” Deputy Superintendent Ron Ciranna said. “If we have to go out and develop a new job description, hire new individuals, and then coordinate with the sheriff's office to train these individuals, we are running out of time.”

Manatee schools says it plans to meet with local law enforcement leaders within the next week to come up with a plan.

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