Levy County needs $1.4M to meet SRO requirements of Florida's new school safety law

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Florida lawmakers passed a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Safety Act last month that requires all public schools to have a resource officer for the remainder of the year.

Unfortunately, there's not enough money to go around.

“This law came into effect when the governor signed it, but no allocation came with it,” says Jeff Edison, the Levy County superintendent.

Counties across Florida have to find the funds without the help of the state.

Since this mandate started immediately, smaller counties like Levy County are finding it hard to fund this.

“When they mandate things go into effect immediately like this, it gives us no time to plan—no time to even get the funds in hand,” says Levy County Sheriff, Robert McCallum.

Levy County has 15 public schools—including two charter schools—but right now they only have 6 resource officers.

To meet the necessary requirements, the sheriff’s office has to hire 11 new resource officers, leaving them short $1.4 million dollars.

“How do I go out and hire 11 new deputies and not be assured with what kind of funding that I’m going to have,” says Sheriff McCallum.

Even with no allocated funds, Levy County has placed off-duty deputies in every school since spring break—spending approximately $4,000 a week in overtime.

While costly authorities say they will do everything to ensure the safety of their children.

“Our focus is security for our children and our schools that’s our number one goal and our number one focus to make sure they are secure and safe,” says Sheriff McCallum.

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