• Orange County schools seek more funding for safety measures

    By: Michael Lopardi


    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Orange County schools plan to seek additional state funding to improve school security.

    The school safety bill Gov. Rick Scott signed last week includes $99 million for the so-called hardening of schools, but some of the upgrades started years ago. 

    Surveillance cameras are stationed around the Orange County Academic Center for Excellence in Orlando. The technology is just one part of a bigger plan to keep students safe.

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    “After 2012, our board engaged a private security consulting firm that's come in, given a number of recommendations over the last several years (and), since 2014, which we've been implementing them,” said Orange County Public Schools spokesperson Scott Howat.

    Among the changes implemented in recent years was creating a single point of entry and adding security fencing. 

    Howat said the district will likely apply for state funding to further the efforts, depending on what the governor does with the budget.

    “We can use that to enhance what we're doing on the hardening side to make sure (there’s) more video surveillance, more control of access points,” Howat said. 

    The district said some of the elements are now part of the design of new schools, and in light of the Parkland shooting, the district is reviewing security once again.

    But not all of those details will be shared because the district doesn't want that information getting into the wrong hands. 

    A consultant will look into what more can be done to keep students safe beyond the gates.

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