He’s already announced changes in procedure and training he wants to see for school safety, but plans could go much deeper.
Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti is heading in to the next budget year with safety as a top priority. He tells WOKV the district’s police office has actually seen a decline in funding over the past three years, and while schools are safe, that budget is going to get a second look.
“Fund anything that we need immediately to address any gaps that are outstanding,” he says.
Immediately, in the new year, Vitti will be ramping up training for teachers, staff, administrators and students as well as implementing more drills. He is also having school resource officers incorporate elementary schools in their daily cycle, something that had not been done in the past.
But that is just the beginning of the changes, because that’s what we can afford right now.
“This is our budget and this is what we’re operating on for the rest of the year,” he says.
Long term, Vitti wants to see some more security infrastructure in place. He wants to look in to silent alarms or specialized radios for the district. The problem, however, is funding it. Vitti told me grant funding is an option, but given the recent elementary school shooting in Connecticut, it’s not an option that would get things done quickly enough. Instead, he will be entering the next budget year with a give-and-take mind set.
“We may be looking at cutting a certain initiative or funding priority in order to fund something like this moving in to the future,” he says.
I asked Vitti what priorities could be on the line, but he says it is too early to tell.
While those questions begin to take shape, he wanted to remind parents, once again, that the schools are safe. The way school safety is handled is something he told me he started talking about even when his interview first began, so now is time to move from conversation to action.