Mascotte City Manager Jim Gleason believes that although safety is a serious issue and each local government may have a different opinion or belief concerning safety in public schools, the situation needs to be fully addressed and FUNDED by the parties responsible for the Public Schools: the State and County School Boards.
“This is not a city problem, says Gleason, this is a State and School Board issue. We can be part of the solution but we cannot take on responsibility for the funding”. He goes on to say that cities face enough of Unfunded Mandates and Encroachment on Home Rule by the Florida Legislature as it is, and cannot allow the State and County School Boards to place this funding responsibility on local municipal governments.
City Manager Jim Gleason Speaks Out On Municipal Police Officers in Public Schools
“There is a significant push by the Lake County School Board to pass on the security of public schools on the backs of city and county taxpayers. Education and Schools are not the constitutional responsibility of City and County Governments. The responsibility for all support of our Public Education System is given to the State of Florida and the 67 County School Boards. We can be a partner but we are not the solution.
While safety is a priority at all levels of government, the Governor, Florida legislature, and our School Boards have failed the students, teachers, and parents in many ways with public safety being one of those responsibilities.
There are far too many school shootings and we have a generation of students who are now graduating who have known nothing but active shooter drills. The recent Parkland shootings brought attention again to a nationwide problem but again our Governor and Legislature have failed to address and fund what is necessary to protect our public schools.
For years the Governor and Florida Legislature have reduced funding to public education and in addition, the state has spent over a billion public tax dollars directly and indirectly to support non-accountable private schools, religious schools, and for-profit charter schools.
Now in 2018 the Governor and the Florida Legislature has failed our students, teacher, and parents by not adequately addressing the issue of public school safety. The Governor and Florida Legislature have done what they have done for years and that is to grandstand about safety at public schools then push the problem to local governments to fund and be responsible.
I am as concerned as anyone about the safety of our schools as my wife is a teacher with Orange County Public Schools but the responsibility of her and her student’s safety cannot be forced on the backs of municipal police departments. You cannot put a price on a life but you can put a price on safety. For my city to dedicate an officer to one public school it will take an estimated $85,000 to train, equip and cover the salary and benefits of an officer that would be dedicated to one school.
I cannot take an officer off the street and dedicate them to a school without a significant cost to the city taxpayers, and a great impact on small police department operations. We do not have an extra officer, this would have to be a new position and even then, if fully funded by the state of Florida and or Lake County School Board there is a cost to the city to cover sickness, vacation, and training when that officer needs to be away from the school.
I agree this is serious not just for Florida but our nation but I cannot support or sit quietly while our Governor and Florida legislature pays lip service to public education and safety but then expects somebody else to pay for it. It is called an “Unfunded Mandate” which happens far too often in Florida.
This is an issue that needs to be addressed by the Governor, Florida legislature and County School Boards in a Special Session of the legislature to come up with the required plan and 100% of the funding as the solution is not asking city and county government to take on the responsibility of the State of Florida and our County School Boards.
Student and Teacher Safety needs to be a Priority as well as a fully funded Public Education System, but that needs to be done by the State of Florida and the County School Systems. All one needs to do is the read the 3-part series by the Orlando Sentinel on how our Governor and Florida legislature has failed our Public Schools!
Unless directed by the Mayor and City Council of Mascotte, we will not take on the cost, responsibility and liability of a State and County School Board Function. Our taxpayers already pay for the public services provided by the city and I cannot see raising taxes or take away from other services to take on a responsibility of the state and local school boards.”
-Jim Gleason, Mascotte City Manager-