Hillsborough County School officials are working on a new plan to improve security at all district schools. The move comes in the wake of the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.
"The world has changed since I was in school and you were in school," said superintendent, Mary Ellen Elia. "And it changed again on December 14th in Connecticut."
Elia unveiled the details of the plan Wednesday morning. The district plans on bringing in a national school safety expert to recommend improvements that could be made. There are also plans for on-going crisis management training, and controlled access to school campuses. School security director David Friedberg said the district also wants to hire, train and equip 130 additional security personnel. That would put an armed guard at every school in the district.
"We're looking for retired law enforcement. We're looking for military background," he said of those the district would like to hire. "We're looking young and inexperienced, that we can train, as well."
It's a change parents and students are already getting used to. After the Sandy Hook shooting, armed officers were placed at all elementary schools, and will be there for the remainder of the school year.
"I think we're very comfortable with it," said Karen Bass, principal at Bryant Elementary in northern Hillsborough County. "There doesn't seem to be any concern and students haven't acted like much has changed."
But increased security doesn't come cheap.
"It's a multi-faceted approach. It's comprehensive. It's going to be expensive and cost money," said Elia.
It will cost $2 million dollars to keep security officers at district elementaries through the end of the 2013 school year. That money will come from the district's reserve fund.
But the estimate for the 2013-2014 school year is closer to $4.1 million dollars. That includes hiring new personnel, buying equipment and improving security at school buildings. Elia said that money will be included in the district's budget for next year.
The superintendent plans on presenting the proposal to the school board next week.
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