On Wednesday, Hillsborough Schools Superintendent MaryEllen Elia announced a long-term plan to continue enhanced security measures in the wake of last month's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.
Part of the plan requires hiring an additional 130 security personnel so that each school in Hillsborough County has armed and trained officials at school. The security personnel would perform similar duties to school resource officers and school resource deputies.
Those who may be hired include retired law enforcement officers, people with military backgrounds or inexperienced residents interested in being trained, Elia said. The extra staff would cost $4.1 million alone.
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Greco Middle School Principal Olayinka Alege said Greco already has two school resource officers and might not necessarily benefit from additional security personnel.
"I think the more, the merrier, but it would not be financially responsible right now because we don't have enough incidents at our school to warrant more than two officers," he explained. "Resources are helpful as we attempt to connect with more students on an individual basis, so non-security positions would be more appropriate, if additional funding was available."
Patch reader Al Martini, who commented on the original Patch story, agreed.
“I don't understand the rush to put armed guards into elementary schools,” he wrote. “This seems like a huge waste of money and may actually increase the danger to children. Funds would be better spent on improved school security. Fences, locks, alarms, etc.”
When asked if adding armed security at Temple Terrace schools is going too far or is necessary these days, Temple Terrace Patch Facebook fans Elizabeth Waters Sullivan and Jennifer Underwood James “Liked” the post.
Riverhills Elementary School Principal Todd Connolly said the school has had Temple Terrace police officers on the campus multiple times during each school day. The officers are visible to parents, students and staff.
“In addition to the safety procedures and protocols we have already established, having an increased law enforcement presence within our school and the surrounding area does give us a greater sense of security,” Connolly said. “It is reassuring to know that in the event of an emergency, law enforcement will be able to respond quickly.”
He said Riverhills could benefit from having its own security personnel.
“It would be a huge benefit to have someone on campus who is trained on safety protocols and who is available to regularly monitor the security of our school,” he said. “As it stands now, my assistant principal and I check our access doors, gates and the school grounds multiple times each day. Having someone on site that can regularly monitor our secured access points and our campus’ main access point will provide for a much safer school environment for our children, staff and community.”
What do you think? Should all Temple Terrace Schools have armed security personnel on campus? Tell us in the comments.
Superintendent Wants Armed Security at Temple Terrace Schools