Who is going to pay to keep Martin County students safe?
That is is the big question the sheriff is trying answer, as quickly as possible.
Friday, Sheriff William Snyder said he called for a meeting with various county and school district leaders to try to figure out who is going to pay the $3.6 million dollars per year it will cost to abide by state law.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, passed after the Parkland school shooting, requires all public schools to have armed security on campus.
The county, school district and sheriff’s office have a matter of months to figure it out, and budgets are tight across the board.
“We need an answer quickly how this is going to be funded,” Snyder said.
Right now, high school and middle schools are funded for school resource officers. But, Snyder said he will need to hire 13 more deputies to cover the deputies for the elementary schools and their supervisors.
Snyder says the money allotted by the state will not cover the staffing needs in Martin County.
Once Snyder knows where the money is coming from, he can move forward with his end of abiding by the law, he said.
“Allow me as the sheriff to move forward, make the hires that I have to and be ready for the next school year,” Snyder said.
But, no one is stepping up to the plate to offer the $3.6 million dollars needed to hire, train, insure and equip the deputies.
“Dollars are tight for everybody. And 3.6 million dollars is a lot of money,” Snyder said.
The Martin County School District is also struggling to solve another controversial and expensive safety issue: School buses. Some members of the school board also wanted to find room in the budget to continue paying for more school bus routes that could be at risk for being canceled.
For now, Snyder is providing deputies to all the schools until the funding is determined for the next school year.
“We can’t continue to do that. They’re men and women that have investigations and duties that have to be taken care of,” Snyder said.
Superintendent Laurie Gaylord said she does not know where the money will come from, or if cuts would have to be made.
A county spokeswoman says county leaders are staying involved in the conversation over the next couple of weeks. She also said the sheriff, school board and county will be comparing what other areas do to find funding.