Polk school board proposes School Safety Guardian for elementary schools

The Polk County School District has come up with an innovative way to make schools safer in the wake of the Parkland shootings.

“It’s clever,” commented board member Billy Townsend at a workshop Thursday afternoon.

The district plans on having school resource officers at the middle and high schools.

It has created a new position called a School Safety Guardian for elementary schools.

The guardians will be uniformed, trained by the Polk Sheriff’s Office to carry and use a gun, and assigned to the elementary schools.

If an active shooter ever shows up on campus, they'll jump in.

“I am hoping we’ll see a number of folks who were in law enforcement, perhaps even retired military, who are looking for not a full-time job, but something that’s fewer hours every day, and a 10-month contract,” School Board Chair Lynn Wilson told FOX 13.

The guardians will be paid $30,000 a year.

The district also plans to hire a person to oversee the program, who will be paid about $85,000 a year.

The first year, the program will cost about $3.7 million, of which $3.3 will be paid by the state.

“I would imagine this would be a model [for other districts],” said school board member Kay Fields.

The idea was generated after the state required all districts to have an armed person on campus for safety reasons.

There was an outcry among educators. Many did not want teachers carrying guns.

School districts said they didn’t have the money to hire the needed number of police or deputies.

The School Guardian Program is much less expensive.

Polk School Board members planned on voting on the issue Thursday night.