Groveland City Council voted unanimously on Monday to fund a certified school resource officer at Groveland Elementary School. The cost to the city will be $38,000 with Lake County Schools funding the remaining $40,000.
The total includes the officer’s salary and benefits as well as related expenses, including weapons and uniform.
Lake County Schools has had resource officers provided by the sheriff at the middle and high schools except in Mount Dora, which is provided by city police. After the February 14 school massacre in Parkland, the Legislature passed a law requiring armed officers in all schools. That left 23 Lake County elementary schools, including Groveland Elementary, needing to be covered.
Groveland joins some of the other Lake County cities who have signed one-year agreements with the school system. Superintendent Diane Kornegay, who made the request at Monday night’s council meeting, said school officials hope that a proposed special school-safety tax of 75 cents for each $1,000 of taxable property value on the Aug. 28 primary ballot will be approved. The revenue would be used to fund elementary-school resource officers after the current school year, Kornegay said.
Groveland police Chief Shawn Ramsey said that one of his officers who is undergoing special training in the coming weeks will fill the school resource officer position at Groveland Elementary. Then the department will seek a replacement for the vacated position.
City Manager Mike Hein had recommended approval, and all the council members concurred. “The children are our future,” said Mayor Dina Sweatt. “We have to protect them.”
The city of Clermont recently entered into an agreement with the School Board and the Education Charter Foundation of Florida to provide four police officers at Clermont Elementary School, Cypress Ridge Elementary School, Lost Lake Elementary School, and South Lake Imagine Charter School.