The Martin County School Board voted Tuesday night to move forward with a plan to put school resource deputies in every school.
Now, Martin County Sheriff William Snyder has just weeks to get staff in place.
“We will have a uniformed deputy in every school in Martin County on day one of the school year,” Snyder said.
On Tuesday, Snyder presented the board with his plan to have a total of 25 school resource deputies, including two sergeants, to protect every public school. New this school year, will be having school resource deputies in elementary schools.
The plan will cost about $3 million, Snyder said, to hire more deputies and buy the needed equipment.
The sheriff’s budget will provide $600,000, but the district will have to find the remaining $2.4 million.
The addition of deputies in every school is now required by law under the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School Safety Act.
“There’s really nothing more important than the safety of those children,” Snyder said.
However, there is not enough time before the start of the school year for Snyder to make the additional hires. “This will take us months, if not over a year, to fully staff up.”
So, Snyder is reassigning detectives or pulling deputies from the Community Oriented Policing unit to temporarily put in schools.
"But, we have to know going forward that we can go out and hire the replacements for those specialized deputies.”
School Board Member, Marsha Powers, said finding the money to pay for the program is not an option.
“This is critical. It’s the law. We have to have SROs or a guardian in our schools,” Powers said.
Snyder reminded board members Tuesday that they have the option to have a "guardian" in lieu of a deputy. The guardian is a designated staff member who is allowed to carry a weapon and can save school districts money. Snyder said deputies are better trained to protect students. Powers agreed deputies are worth the added cost.