Lack of funds forces Lake Co. to pull full-time deputies from elementary schools

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LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - Lake County put deputies in all elementary schools following the Connecticut shootings. Now they are cutting back and deputies won't be at the schools full-time. The county said it is a money issue.

Dismissal time at Tavares Elementary on Tuesday didn't look quite like it did last week, when two police SUVs were parked there.

Some parents said they weren't too happy about the lack of police presence.

"I actually liked them here. It was comforting seeing that they were here," said parent Cheryl Norum.

Right after the shooting tragedy in Connecticut, deputies were placed in all 21 county grade schools.  But the coverage has now been reduced.

"That means you'll see them a lot more at elementary schools, stopping by at periodic times during the day," said Chris Patton of the Lake County School District.

But they won't be spending the entire day at the schools.

"We're certainly not opposed to providing deputies in schools if funding is available, but the funding is just not there," said Lt. John Herrell of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Officials with the Sheriff's Office, county commission, and school board met, and agreed to pull the officers out.

"I want to first of all say our schools are safe," said Lake County school board member Rosanne Brandeburg.

"I think our schools here are very safe," said Lake County Commissioner Leslie Campione.

"They probably thought that in Connecticut too, though," WFTV reporter Berndt Petersen said to Campione.

"They probably did. And I think there's been a lot of discussion about what if things had been different at that school.  Would it have changed the outcome?" said Campione.

At Tavares Elementary some parents said they think it would have made a difference, and they still want full-time officers at their school.

Thirty county deputies patrol the middle and high schools at a cost of more than $2 million. The Sheriff's Office contributes $1.2 million, the school board contributes $860,000 and the cities don't contribute any money, according to the Sheriff's finance director.