Florida Gov. Cuts Millions from Guardian Training Program

Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed $41.6 million from a guardian training program which trains school employees to carry guns on campus.

Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed $41.6 million from a guardian training program which trains school employees to carry guns on campus. The cut was part of an effort to rebalance the state budget after coronavirus-related economic shortfalls. In total, Gov. DeSantis cut $1 billion from programs related to affordable housing, education and social services, reports the Orlando Sentinel.

The Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program was established in 2018 through the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. Through the program, police train teachers, coaches, and other school employees to respond to an active shooter. It requires the school employees to pass psychological and drug evaluations and complete a minimum of 144 hours of training.

Currently, 43 counties participate in the program, which is named after a coach who shielded students from a gunman who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, chairman of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission that recommended the guardianship program, estimates its costs about $2 million a year to provide guardianship training throughout the state.

The guardian program began with a one-time, non-recurring pot of $67 million, with $500,000 in recurring dollars, reports The Ledger. The program had a low number of school districts who signed up the first year so the legislature rolled over the leftover money into the following year’s budget.

The funds are granted to participating sheriff’s departments to cover the cost of screening, psychological evaluations, training, ammunition, and liability insurance. Guardians are also given a one-time $500 stipends.

Ted Roush, superintendent of Suwannee County schools, told The Ledger he estimates it costs his district about $5,000 for a new recruit to $2,000 for ongoing training. Without the allocated state resources, the district doesn’t have the money to provide the training.

About the Author

Yvonne Marquez is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at ymarquez@1105media.com.

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