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Flagler Sheriff Jim Manfre said upcoming budget discussions will help determine what will be done next school year in regard to school safety. ANDREW O'BRIEN
Palm Coast Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013 8 years ago

School officials approve $63,000 for more security

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by: Andrew OBrien Contributing Writer

LAST UPDATED: 12:01 p.m. Wednesday

The Flagler County School Board on Tuesday approved immediately spending $63,000 to add armed, off-duty deputies to all elementary schools. 

The full cost for the five deputies will be about $84,000. The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office will contribute the remaining $21,000.

The item was approved via a 4-1 vote — School Board member Trevor Tucker dissented. Tucker cited the district’s budget as one reason for not voting in favor of the stop-gap plan.

“If (the shooting at) Sandy Hook (Elementary School, in Newtown, Conn.) didn’t happen, would we be having this discussion?” Tucker said after the meeting.

Last month, the school district approved a donation of more than $11,000 to add a deputy at Old Kings Elementary School.

A portion of that money could get refunded back to the parent, Laura Lauria, once the new plan is put into place, according to Superintendent Janet Valentine. 

"We'll be working on that with the Sheriff's Office," Valentine said. "It depends on how long this takes us to put this in place. Certainly, we don't want to take a parent's money and have her fund one (school) and not the others," Valentine said after the meeting. 

Now, the Sheriff’s Office and the school district will combine to fund deputies at the schools for the final 75 days of the school year.

With the plan, there will be a Sheriff's Office deputy at all Flagler schools. 

The money will come from the district’s fund balance, which essentially is a savings account. Money may be taken out on a one-time basis, but once it’s spent, it’s gone, said Tom Tant, CFO of Flagler Schools.

Because of decreased property values, the district hasn’t been able to deposit money into its savings account for the past two years, Tant said. 

Earlier this week, Flagler County Sheriff Jim Manfre said, road patrol deputies were asked to frequent the area’s elementary schools and do paperwork from the parking lots as a way of increasing the agency's presence on school campuses.

With the plan agreed to Tuesday night, deputies will sign up for the overtime work beginning next week, Manfre said.

“Our conclusion is it’s simply not feasible for us in the time frame we have to go out and advertise, hire, train and implement to come and do that work,” Manfre said, in regard to adding five full-time school resource officers to each elementary school.

School officials have said adding SROs back into the elementary schools not only improves safety, but also establishes relationships for students at an early age.

“(Manfre) put a lot of time and effort into us,” School Board Chairman Andy Dance said. “I will follow in with his reasoning that it’s everything else that the SROs do within the school that make them so important.” 

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