ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Hurricane-proof windows were installed in schools across the state in 1994.
The windows, which are designed to withstand the full force of a hurricane, are installed at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
The windows saved lives because the suspected gunman couldn't break them.
The school building is constructed of cinder block and concrete -- hard surfaces that blocked bullets and saved lives.
Across Central Florida, there are more than 4,000 portable classrooms that lack hurricane-proof windows and hard, solid surfaces.
"I’ve been in education for 20 years," teacher Clayton Phillips said. "This is my eighth year in a portable."
Phillips is a teacher at Orange County's Timber Creek High School, where he teaches advanced placement European history, philosophy and AP comparative government. For the last eight years, he has taught from a portable on the edge of campus, bordered by a road and a green space.
"I keep my door locked at all times, because I can’t be at the back monitoring who is coming through the school," Phillips said. "In the event of an incident, we are to lock the doors and block the windows. The idea is don't be seen, don’t be heard, turn off the lights, move to the back, but there is really not a wall we can hide next to in my building."
School officials said they try to take steps to protect the portables by placing them behind chain-link fences and locked gates. They said also try to place the temporary classrooms away from roads, in more secluded and protected places.
School officials admit that construction materials used to build a portable aren't as resistant to bullets as those used for traditional school buildings.
Of the more than 4,000 portables in Central Florida, 1,959 are in Orange County. Polk County has 769, Volusia County has 460, Lake County has 276 and Osceola County has 235.
Schools have used portables to deal with growth. The buildings are designed to be a temporary solution, one that can be replaced with a building. But that’s not always the case.
"Capital outlay has been insufficient for Orange County and all schools across Florida," Orange County School Board Vice Chair Linda Kobert said. "The Legislature does continues to squeeze school budgets for construction and maintenance."
Since 2006, Orange County Public Schools has cut the number of portables it uses in half.
The school district relies on a half-cent sales tax to cover what the state won't.
Because voters have to approve and reapprove the sales tax, the district knows its ability to try and keep up with growth depends on voters' willingness to pay more in taxes.
The last half-cent sales tax was approved in 2014 and will expire in 2024.
Lake County relies on a one-third of a cent sales tax for its constriction needs.
Part of the reason for the less expensive portables and the local sales taxes is the Florida Legislature.
Since 2008, the Legislature has cut funding for school construction by about 25 percent, a reduction of about $6 billion.
The Legislature in March approved a one-time allocation of $99 million specifically for the hardening of schools.
School officials said that amount is not enough to harden current school buildings, let alone temporary classrooms.
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