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Collier County wants school district to share costs for school resource officers

Posted at 7:52 PM, Jun 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-13 08:49:07-04

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — They're posted at every school in Collier County to make sure your kids are safe in class. But now county leaders would like the school district to start sharing the costs of assigning deputies to schools.

"There's no, 'oh, we're flush with money; we can afford it,'" said Commissioner Penny Taylor. "That's a specious argument, and will not hold."

In an email to Fox 4, Collier County Public Schools spokesman Chad Oliver stated that the county had provided funding for school law enforcement for forty years at no cost to the school district.

"It is concerning that the county appears to be backing down on its long-term partnership and commitment, particularly after the Parkland tragedy," Oliver wrote, referring to the February 2018 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that cost 17 students their lives.

He added that the request to share costs for school officers "comes on the heels of a successful one-cent sales tax that will generate $490 million for the county during the next seven years."

But Taylor said the county's budget isn't bottomless.

"We were $17 million in the red when we started this evaluation on the budget," she said. "It has to balance."

Oliver wrote that the school district did contribute $1.6 million for youth relations officers during the 2018-2019 school year, and would continue that contribution.

He added that CCPS School Board Chairman Roy Terry will send the school district's official response to the County in a letter.

Naples High School student Michaela O'Brien said she doesn't believe more deputies in schools are the answer to better school security.

"We should probably have metal detectors," O'Brien said. "I believe that is the most fool-proof way to guarantee the safety of our students."

County and school officials are expected to meet soon to work out details for continuing to pay for deputies in schools.