Rick Scott signs bill strengthening school safety into law
Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation that increases money for school security following the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
On March 9, Scott signed CS/SB 7026, also known as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, into law. In addition to new restrictions for gun purchases, the measure creates a new Office of School Security, allocates funding for more school resource officers, supports additional mental health counselors, and creates a program that would allow teachers to be armed with training.
PolitiFact has been updating Scott's campaign promise to increase school security funding. In 2014, Scott promised to increase funding from $10 million to $74 million. In June 2017, we rated this Promise Broken after he signed a budget that gave $64.5 million to the allocation, the same as the year before.
The bill he signed in March sets aside $97.5 million in addition to the continued $64.5 million allocation in the 2018-19 budget. That brings each district's total minimum share to $250,000.
Money will be divided to districts based on student enrollment. The bill states that districts must use the money only to hire school resource officers.
Kerri Wyland, a Scott spokeswoman, wrote in an email that the bill provides $162 million for school officers and requires one at each school in the state.
Outside of resource officers, the bill sets aside about $99 million to update school infrastructure, including metal detectors, bulletproof glass and upgraded locks. About $75 million is meant for to support mental health services, like counselors for students.
Based on the increase in the Safe Schools Allocation fund and the other investments into school security spending, we rate this a Promise Kept.
Email with Kerri Wyland, Governor Rick Scott spokesperson, 3/13/18
After Parkland shooting, Scott proposes massive increase in school security money
Following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Gov. Rick Scott proposed a $450 million school security plan.
The money would provide for increased building security, school resource officers in every public school and money for training of teachers and students. Scott also called for an additional $50 million for mental health initiatives and measures to reduce access to guns — including a requirement that most people be at least 21 to purchase a gun.
When Scott announced his plan in Tallahassee on Feb. 23, he said, "The goal of this plan of action is to make massive changes in protecting our schools, provide significantly more resources for mental health, and do everything we can to keep guns out of the hands of those dealing with mental problems or threatening harm to themselves or others."
PolitiFact has been tracking Scott's more modest campaign promise to increase school spending on security. In 2014, Scott promised to increase school security by $10 million to over $74 million, money divvied up among the state's 67 school districts. We gave him a Promise Broken in June 2017 after he signed a budget that included $64.5 million, or the same amount of money as the previous year.
Scott's promise referred to a longstanding program called the Safe Schools Allocation. The annual money is allocated to public school districts to spend on school resource officers and programs to correct behavior and prevent bullying.
Before the shooting in Parkland, the Legislature was split on funding for next school year. The House had recommended that the amount of money remain stagnant while the Senate recommended an extra $13.7 million. Scott had proposed a $10 million increase.
Scott's new school security proposal includes an increase in funding in the Safe Schools Allocation, although he didn't specify how much money was for that line item. (We asked a Scott spokeswoman how much of the $450 million will go toward the Safe Schools Allocation and she told us "we will keep you updated.")
The money could be used for school security measures such as metal detectors, bullet-proof glass, steel doors, and upgraded locks.
Other parts of Scott's proposal include:
Mandatory school resource officers in every public school including at least one officer for every 1,000 students. Many schools currently don't have an officer or share one with other schools. (Marjory Stoneman Douglas had an officer, but he didn't enter the school while gunfire was under way.)
Provide sheriffs' departments the authority to train additional school personnel or reserve law enforcement officers to protect students if requested by the local school board.
Require mandatory active shooter training for faculty and students.
Establish a new, anonymous K-12 "See Something, Say Something" statewide, dedicated hotline, website and mobile app.
Establish funding to require access to dedicated mental health counselors at every school.
Require each school to have a threat assessment team including a teacher, a local law enforcement officer, a human resource officer, a Department of Children and Families employee and a Department of Juvenile Justice employee, and the principal to meet monthly to review any potential threats.
Require crisis intervention training for all school personnel.
Scott suggested that the state would pay for these projects by cutting in other areas, such as foregoing tax cuts or "some of the projects we all hold near and dear."
The Florida Education Association said in a statement that it supports Scott's proposal.
The state legislative session ends in two weeks on March 9. We will have to see if the Legislature will go along with Scott's funding proposal, but for now his announcement is enough to move our rating of his promise to In The Works.
Gov. Rick Scott, Action plan, Feb. 23, 2018
Florida Channel, "Governor's Press Conference on Action Plan to Keep Florida Students Safe," Feb. 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Times, "Shootings put safety funding in spotlight," Feb. 20, 2018
USA Today, "Florida lawmakers repeatedly denied pleas for more school-safety money," Feb. 15, 2018
Florida Department of Education, Safe schools appropriation expenditures report, 2015-16
Interview, Kerri Wyland and Lauren Schenone, Gov. Rick Scott spokeswomen, Feb. 23, 2018
Gov. Rick Scott's effort to increase school security money falls short
Gov. Rick Scott had a victory on the education front when the final budget included an increase in state spending by $100 per student next fall.
However, one of his promises related to school spending fell by the wayside: an increase in spending on school security.
Specifically, Scott promised during his 2014 reelection campaign "to increase school security by $10 million to over $74 million."
Scott was referring to the Safe Schools Allocation, an annual fund allocated to public school districts to spend on programs related to safety. The money can be spent on a variety of programs and personnel including school resource officers and programs to correct behavior and bullying prevention.
Each school district gets $250,000, and the remainder is allocated based on a formula that takes into account crime statistics and student enrollment.
The Safe Schools Allocation has existed for more than a decade. The total pot remained at $75 million for several years until it dropped during the economic downturn, which started under Scott's predecessor, Gov. Charlie Crist.
In the 2010-11 fiscal year (over which Scott did not have control), the total was about $67 million. In Scott's first budget, it dropped to $64.5 million for 2011-12. It stayed at that level for the next few years.
SB 2500 provided the same amount of $64.5 million for the 2017-18 school year. Scott signed the bill June 2.
(Unrelated to his promise, Scott did sign a bill that provided money for the first time for security at private Jewish schools.)
Scott has one more session next year to achieve this promise related to public schools, but so far he has struck out. We rate this Promise Broken.
Senate Bill 2500, Signed by Gov. Rick Scott June 2, 2017
Miami Herald, "$650,000 in Florida budget for security at Jewish schools raises questions," May 11, 2017
Interview, Meghan Collins, Florida Department of Education spokeswoman, May 30, 2017
Rick Scott proposes increase in school securing funding
As part of a package of promises to increase education spending, during the 2014 campaign Gov. Rick Scott promised "to increase school security by $10 million to over $74 million." His budget for the upcoming legislative session takes a step toward that goal.
In his 2015-16 budget proposal, Scott recommended an increase of $14.25 million -- for a total of about $78.7 million -- for the Safe Schools Allocation, a fund for public safety. School districts can spend the money in a variety of ways, including for after-school programs for middle school students; programs to correct behavior; suicide and bullying prevention; school resource officers and detection dogs. Each school district gets $250,000, and the remainder is allocated based on a formula that takes into account crime statistics and student enrollment. (For example in 2014-15, Miami-Dade County received about $10 million and Hillsborough County received $3 million.)
The Safe Schools Allocation has existed for more than a decade. The total pot remained at $75 million for several years until it dropped during the economic downturn, which started under Scott's predecessor Gov. Charlie Crist. In 2010-11 when Scott started, the total pot was about $67 million. In Scott's first budget, it dropped to $64.5 million for 2011-12 and then stayed at that level for the next few years.
Scott is on track to achieve his promise of increasing school security by $10 million if the Legislature goes along with his plan when it convenes March 3. It's worth noting that much of his proposed funding increase follows years of cuts and then stagnant funding. For now, we rate this promise In The Works.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, 2015-16 budget proposal, January 2015
Florida Department of Education, 2014-15 Safe Schools funding HB 5001, 2014
Interview, Jeri Bustamante, Gov. Rick Scott spokeswoman, Feb. 2, 2015
Interview, Cheryl Etters, Florida Department of Education spokeswoman, Feb. 2, 2015