Students are starting the new school year in Palm Beach County with more protection than ever before, including police officers in every school.
"So we all work together, hopefully, the end of the day, we make every day a safe school day," Palm Beach County School District Police Chief Frank Kitzerow said.
Thirteen area police departments are assisting the school district police department to provide officers to cover every school, a requirement of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. Chief Kitzerow said he's working to hire more school district officers.
"Obviously we want to get it done as soon as possible, but we want the right people," he said.
The school district hired additional police aides for this school year, placing them around schools to monitor doors and perimeters.
"Roam all day, be another set of eyes to help with perimeter, internally and build relationships with kids," Superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy said. "We were able to provide that for a lot of our secondary schools."
More than half of the district's schools now have a single point of entry. 17 schools made the change for this school year.
"The campus is tight, the campus is solid and I just look forward to an incident-free year," said Corey Brooks, who celebrated his first day as principal of Dwyer High School.
Money from the penny sales tax went toward security improvements at schools as well as cosmetic upgrades.
Dr. Fennoy toured Wellington Landings Middle School Monday to see the outcome of a summer of renovations. This is the school's first major facelift in its 30-year history.
"It’s huge. Already this morning, some of our returning seventh and eighth graders walked in the media center and they just kind of stopped and they looked around and they were like, 'Wow, this is fantastic,'" said Blake Bennett, the school's principal. "So we’re just really excited about all of the changes."
The district had 117 projects to complete this summer, of which 112 were finished, Dr. Fennoy said.