BRADENTON -- Almost a full year after hiring private security officers to patrol Manatee County elementary schools, the issue of safety and security is once again in the Manatee County School Board spotlight.
Troy Nelson, manager of security, and Sally Hull, manager of safety and emergency management, discussed safety and security plans for the 2015-16 school year during a workshop Tuesday. The positions were created after the Manatee County School District failed to find a candidate qualified to serve in a combined role.
The district contracts with local law enforcement agencies to put a dedicated school resource officer in each high school and middle school, but there's no blanket coverage for students in elementary school. A few schools are covered by local police departments, including Holmes Beach Police Department providing
an officer for Anna Maria Elementary School.
Because of money and personnel constraints, the district will not be able to provide more officers this year, Nelson said.
"We're in a little bit of a holding pattern right now," he said.
Formal contracts will come before the board at a future date, Nelson said.
One thing he is working on, he told the board, is better using the officers the district hires to direct traffic in the mornings and afternoons.
As part of the district's work with the Manatee County Substance Abuse Coalition, school resource officers will undergo training and provide more instruction to students during the 2015-16 year, said Cynthia Saunders, deputy superintendent of instruction.
Training for students will be called "Know the Law." In middle school, it'll be part of civics class and in high school it'll be part of the required Health Opportunities for Physical Education class.
"It's more than just substance abuse," Saunders said. "A long time ago our deputies and sheriff's officers used to teach a (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) class. They're re-establishing that type of intervention."
No formal action was taken on the security issues.
In other action:
The board voted unanimously to expel two students accused of attacking a principal and assistant principal last school year.
Reimbursement for legal fees board Chairman Bob Gause incurred over bid tampering allegations was pulled off the agenda. Gause said he wanted to wait until the board developed and finalized a policy on the issue.
"Our policies now don't really address that," Gause said.
The planned contract for a Jumbotron at Manatee High School was pulled off the agenda because it was not completed, staff attorney Mitchell Teitelbaum said. The contract is slated to be ready next meeting.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.