School bill allocates $40K toward officers at Marco Island schools
Funding from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act will allocate a little more than $40,000 this year towards providing school resource officers at Marco Island schools this year.
Marco Island Police Chief Al Schettino briefed the City Council Monday night on a resolution coming forward that includes a memorandum of understanding with Collier County Public Schools to accept the funding.
Out of the $400 million state bill that was signed by Gov. Rick Scott in March after the Parkland shooting, $97.5 million was allocated towards school resource officer funding. The total amount for each school was determined based upon $35 being allocated per student. With 1,151 students in Marco Island’s three schools, it equates to $40,450.10.
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As part of his presentation, Schettino also spoke of the department’s response to the mass shooting in Parkland earlier this year and continued attempts to further protect Marco Island students.
Schettino said the city took the lead on hiring three additional school resources officers once the incident happened and the available resources allow at least one officer to be present at all schools during the school day. Those resources include Marco Island Police Department officers as well as Collier County Sheriff's Office deputies, who Schettino said also run a junior deputy program.
In addition to the additional coverage, Schettino said that he had been working on cooperation to have additional coverage from the Sheriff’s Office or overtime paid for when it could not cover the schools.
“We’re talking about the Sheriff’s Department helping us out with overtime funding when we have to have overtime to cover the school district,” Schettino said.
With Marco Island’s amount not enough to cover the cost of one school resource officer, Chairperson Jared Grifoni raised questions for how areas in the state with limited school-age children, such as Marco Island, would be able to meet the state mandates based upon the funding formula.
Although he did not have a specific answer, Schettino repeated that the police department took the lead with hiring and placing the necessary resources in schools.
Councilor Victor Rios asked for safety considerations to be made when students were participating in athletics, referencing the June 14, 2017, incident where members of Republican members of Congress were shot in Alexandria, Va., during a practice for the Congressional Softball Game for Charity.
Increased efforts to increase protection and the level of service, however, have not gone unnoticed on the dais.
Councilor Larry Honig, who said he was critical during the budget process last year after concerns came from Marco Island Academy about service, offered praise for the department’s stance on school safety.
“I would just like to commend you and the department for your response and reaction, which is immediate and extremely well received by the Marco Island Academy,” Honig said.