Orange County (Fla.) Commissioners Approve $11 Million to Hire 75 SROs
The $11 million approved budget will be shared between Orange County Public Schools, the Board of Commissioners and the state of Florida.
The Orange County Board of Commissioners approved an additional $11 million in funding for the hiring of 75 additional school resource officers.
The board approved the request Tuesday, which was proposed by Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings on Friday, reports WESH. The total approved budget of $11,241,034 will be shared between Orange County Public Schools, the Board of Commissioners and the state of Florida.
Demings said the additional deputies are needed to fulfill the mandates of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which requires armed guards on every school campus in the state. The Orange County school district currently has 117 campuses.
Demings has been at odds with Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs over hiring enough SROs since the act was signed into law.
In May, Demings sent a memo to Jacobs stating the Sheriff’s Office would need to hire 75 deputies for the 2019-2020 school year, while the plan for the 2018-2019 school year was to use 66 deputies, working overtime, to fill the necessary spots.
Some of the deputies were not informed that they would be serving in such a capacity until the Friday before school began, according to Click Orlando.
Jacobs claimed she found out just 60 hours before the new school year was set to begin that deputies assigned to schools would not be there the whole day.
“As far as we could tell, every other agency within the region was providing a full-time deputy for each of our schools while they were in session. That was not the level of coverage that the sheriff was prepared to provide,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs also said funding the new hires was never an issue, but that Demings never provided a budget. Demings said he could not provide a budget until the Sheriff’s Office reached an agreement with the School Board, which was finalized last Wednesday.
After the board approved Deming’s request, Orange County Public Schools officials said that “currently some elementary schools have less than full-time coverage on alternating schedules.”
“The district has been able to double the amount of School Resource Officers’ coverage on our elementary school campuses thanks to the partnership with the sheriff and the commitment of the school board to pay for full-time coverage with overtime hours,” the officials said in a statement.
The approved funding will replace the overtime hours from deputies being pulled from other departments with full-time officers in the remaining schools.
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