MANATEE COUNTY (WWSB) - Tuesday, the Florida Senate is expected to take a final vote on a bill that includes a component to allow classroom teachers to serve as armed school guardians.
Republicans and Democrats support nearly everything in the bill, which addresses school hardening, mental health and school safety assessments. But senators are divided over whether to allow full-time teachers to volunteer for the guardian program. If that legislation passes, individual counties will then decide if they will allow teachers in their districts to carry guns on campus.
Sarasota County School Board already voted no, but Tuesday Manatee County School Board will again discuss the issue.
Manatee County started the conversation of the topic at their last school board meeting, but decided they needed to discuss it more before making a decision.
At the last meeting, Board Members Reverend James Golden and Charlie Kennedy said they are against arming teachers.Board Member Dr. Scott Hopes said he doesn't want to have to arm teachers, but if that's what local law enforcement officials recommend the district to do, he will support it.
"We have 61 schools, they are all different. Let's leave it up to law enforcement to make the recommendations, then let's have a discussion about how we're going to implement the recommendations by our local law enforcement leaders," Hopes said.
The school board has yet to sit down and talk with local law enforcement officials about what they recommend to do if this is passed.
Hopes said at the end of the day, the district will end up doing what they can afford to do financially.
If the bill passes, it will go into effect July 1st.