The Sarasota County School Board kept the July meeting short.
Superintendent Lori White gave a report on the School Resource Officer program.
White reported an additional school resource deputy is being added to Riverview High School. The increase by one officer will add $32,059 to the contract with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office. The school district’s portion of the cost of another officer is $42,234.04.
Because the Safe School Funding allocation has decreased by 11.5%, the cost of the school resource officer program will rise by 10%, White said.
Board member Caroline Zucker asked White how much it would cost to put an officer at every elementary. White said, as an estimate to include benefits, training and other expenses, it would be around $4 million. The district is not currently considering placing officers at the elementary schools, she said.
“We’ve taken steps to make our schools safer,” Board member Shirley Brown said, and asked White to list some improvements.
White noted that all new and rebuilt schools are being built with a one-entry system which helps to moniter who comes and goes. Older schools' fencing includes only one entry, she said. The school district has 4,000 working video surveillance units that are monitered every day and have recently switched the surveillance from analog to digital, she said. All offices now have a panic button, as well.
The school board approved the consent agenda with no discussion.
No members of the public spoke during the first public hearing on the federal universal free breakfast program the district is considering for schools with 80% of students eligible for free or reduced price meals.
However, almost all the commissioners spoke up in support of the program.
“There’s nothing worse than a child with a grumbling stomach trying to participate in class,” Chairwoman Jane Goodwin said.
The program could help eliminate the stigma that usually follows children who participate in the free or reduced price meal program, too, Goodwin said.
“It’s a wonderful program,” Vice-chairman Frank Kovach said.
The second public hearing will be held at the August 5 meeting, before the board votes on approving the program.