Manatee District Schools security changes post Parkland

Manatee County school safety changes since Parkland shooting

SARASOTA (WWSB) - This week marks one year since the school shooting in Parkland. The massacre sparked major changes to school security across the state and right here on the Suncoast. Manatee District Schools held a press conference with school officials and law enforcement.

Palmetto Police Chief Scott Tyler said, “Whether it’s an SRO or guardian, there’s a seamless security presence in our schools.”

Law enforcement and school district officials are laying out what they’ve done in the past year in regards to security.

“I do believe that we can say that the schools in Manatee County are safer today than they were a year ago," says Manatee District Superintendent Cynthia Saunders, by way of 35 guardians in the district’s elementary schools.

“We’ve been very pleased with the guardian program. It has worked very well for us. I do not see that we have a need or reason for change.”

But Saunders does stress that any additional dollars from the state would help with resources. Placing an armed officer in every school can be expensive.

There are 22 student resource officers in the county patrolling middle and high schools. In addition, Manatee County has hired 13 additional behavioral health counselors to help students with mental health issues.

School board chair Scott Hopes says there’s a priority in the near future to hire engineers to improve on what is already being done. “They are looking at the safety components of our schools including technology, fencing, walling off and ensuring that the front office is protected with additional barriers and steps along the way.”

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