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Safety Assessments Leading To Security Upgrades At Tampa Bay Schools


Tampa Bay school districts are working to implement new safety measures based on assessment feedback.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Act was passed by Florida legislature earlier this year and requires all schools in Florida to conduct a Safe Schools Assessments to improve security on campus.

The assessments, which had to be complete by Aug. 1, helped determine what improvements the schools in each county need.

Pasco County has already completed their assessment and submitted their recommendations, which include purchasing security cameras and lock and handle upgrades.

The cost of installing surveillance cameras is estimated to cost $840,000. Upgrading locks could run as much as $1.2 million. The Pasco County School Board will discuss funding the improvements at their meeting Tuesday morning.

Other Tampa Bay counties, such as Pinellas and Hillsborough, have also completed their Safe Schools Assessment.

Clint Herbic, associate superintendent of operational services for Pinellas County Schools, said schools are currently making improvements, including upgrading locks and installing a new communication system in classrooms.

“If a teacher sees something and there’s a danger on campus, we would like them to be able to hit a button, be able to explain what they see and then maintain that communication, even as far forward as to law enforcement,” Herbic said.

School officials are meeting with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Department and other police agencies to determine what other measures to take based on the school security assessment.

“We’ve allocated about $3.5 million from the $99 million that the state put into the act, but we’ve also set some money aside if we have to go over,” Herbic said. “It’s one of those cases where we’ll spend and we’ll find the money that we need to make sure every school has what it needs.”

Jessica Barron is a WUSF/USF Zimmerman School digital news intern for fall 2018.
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