The 2017-2018 school year is rapidly approaching and as school districts across the state try and comply with the new school safety standards put in place following the Parkland school shooting, we've learned Clay and Nassau County public schools will have some form of armed officers in place by the start of the school year.
Clay County Superintendent Addison Davis tells me the district went through 87 applicants for their school safety officer position and they dwindled down those candidates to 30.
“They have been trained rigorously by the sheriff’s office and have over 144 hours of training that’s outlined by the guardianship program.” Davis says.
Davis says those school safety officers will be in place at elementary schools across the county while school resource officers will be in place at junior and senior high schools.
In Nassau County, the school districts school safety specialist Al Smith says there will be school resources officers at all of their campuses on day one.
“On the first day of school, there will be an armed SRO in every one of the Nassau County schools.” Smith says.
He says those SROs will be from the Fernandina Beach Police Department and the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office.
Other than having armed officers on their campuses, Clay and Nassau schools are taking other steps to keep your kids safe. Superintendent Davis says the district has received around $926,000 for mental health wellness work.
“So with our dollars we’ve added more social workers, school psychologists, mental health counselors, along with identifying and hiring a coordinator of mental health, a coordinator of student engagement and a coordinator of nursing.” Davis says.
He says this year the district will also focus on training teachers and administrators to better spot students with possible mental health issues. Davis also says the district is close to launching an anonymous crisis hotline.
For Nassau County schools Smith says the district has taken a number of steps to help improve school safety. Smith says they’ve limited entrance points into schools, improved fencing around them, installed electric locks, put in easily lockable door nobs, and secured the lobby areas in schools by having a closed reception desk. Among those physical changes, Smith says the district will also have social workers assigned to every school.
While Clay and Nassau schools will have those officers and safety measures in place, Duval County Public Schools has said they won't have their armed school safety assistants in place by the start of school this upcoming Monday. We've learned though, the district is working towards training more assistants, DCPS says they've hired a second wave of less than 40 people which started training at the end of July. DCPS has said Duval County School Police and the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office will likely fill in the gaps until the district can get the school assistants in place.
We told you Tuesday when less than have of the schools in the St. Johns County school district won't have an armed deputy in place on the first day, and Baker County School's Superintendent Sherrie Raulerson said in July that specifically trained law enforcement officers have been assigned full time to each of the Baker County School Districts schools. According to the director of school safety in Baker County, John Crawford, these school resource officers from the Baker County Sheriff's Office will be in place on the first day of school.
Hear what Superintendent Davis says parents can do to help keep schools safe in my full interview below.