Westchase schools in need of security upgrades might have improvements coming in the near future.
The Hillsborough County School Board agreed Tuesday, Feb. 19, to spend about $1.2 million out of its emergency maintenance fund to pay for improvements at some campuses across the county, according to The Tampa Tribune. Those improvements include things like fences, gates and other upgrades.
The school board has been wrestling with the idea of enhancing security on campuses countywide since last December’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. It has agreed to keep deputies assigned to elementary schools throughout the remainder of the year. A proposal by Superintendent MaryEllen Elia to spend about $700,000 to bolster its own security staff after this year, however, was shot down by board members in January.
Board members also voted against spending the $1.2 million for improvements just last month. The original proposal had funding coming out of the district’s contingency fund. Tuesday’s proposal called for taking the money out of the emergency maintenance fund.
"We want to keep our children safe. We need to take this more seriously," board member Candy Olson was quoted by The Tribune as saying. "There are people out there who don't wish our children well. I don't want to be sitting up here in a couple of months and saying, 'If only…' ''
Chairwoman April Griffin, however, is concerned about depleting the emergency fund.
“We are in a mode where we are making decisions based on fear," Griffin was quoted by The Tribune as saying. "I'm a parent; I get that. But I feel like it's a false sense of security. In Connecticut, they had everything in place."
Do you think the district should spend the money to make improvements to fences and gates? Or, do you agree with April Griffin that decisions are being made based on fear? Share your thoughts in the comments section.