• School security wish list would cost Marion County $160M


    MARION COUNTY, Fla. - WFTV learned it would cost Marion County more than $160 million to overhaul security at all 51 county schools.

    Following the Sandy Hook massacre last month in Connecticut, school leaders in Marion County put together list of improvements, but they can only afford the basics, even if taxpayers pick up the cost with a special sales tax.

    The Marion County School Board now has estimates of what it would cost for major security upgrades in all 51 schools.

    “We have schools that are 50, 60, 70 years old.  We have schools that are 5 years old.  So, the price differs at every school,” said school official Kevin Christian.

    Options include fencing, bulletproof doors and windows and cameras.  The county sheriff also suggested a deputy on every campus with schools equipped with panic buttons.

    Some parents like Christina Serendas don’t like the idea.

    Serendas’ son won’t start school for another couple of years, but she said she’s concerned about what the schools will be like when he gets there.

    “You don’t want kids to feel like they’re in a prison.  It’s a school,” she said.

    The price is also something that plays into the upgrades.

    Ocala Middle School was built in 1928 and has large windows throughout the building. To bulletproof the school would cost $2 million.

    Installing bulletproof doors at each school’s entrance alone would top $5 million, officials said, and bulletproofing all the windows would top more than $130 million. 

    Serenda said even if money were no object, there are no guarantees.

    “You’re not going to keep guns or anything out of anywhere no matter what we do,” said Serenda.

    Sticking with a deputy on every campus would cost about $2.5 million per year.

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    School security wish list would cost Marion County $160M