Leesburg commissioners bless plan to provide school resource officers

Leesburg commissioners gave their blessing Monday night to a plan that calls for the city’s police department to place school resource officers in two elementary schools.

Under an agreement with the Lake County School Board, the city will provide the two resource officers at Beverly Shores and Leesburg elementary schools, beginning next month and running through the end of the school year in May 2020.

Beverly Shores and Leesburg elementary schools will have school resource officers this school year provided by the Leesburg Police Department.

The cost to the school board is $113,924 and will be paid to the city in quarterly installments (September, November, February and May). The agreement could change if the Lake County Commission decides to fund the positions.

According to the agreement, the officers will interact with students during the regular class schedule and at extra-curricular activities to provide additional security for them, school personnel and school property.

The resource officers will be stationed at the schools for 80 hours per two-week period, Monday through Friday. Additional hours can be added with prior approval of the Leesburg Police Department if requested by the respective principals at the schools. And if a request leads to overtime hours, the school board will reimburse the police department, the agreement reads.

This marks the second year Leesburg commissioners have agreed to provide resource officers at the two elementary schools. Fruitland Park commissioners approved a similar agreement with the Lake County School Board last month to provide an officer at Fruitland Park Elementary School – the second year in a row for that commission as well.

The need to provide school resource officers came about to help satisfy requirements of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which was signed into law following the Feb. 14, 2018 shooting in Parkland that left 17 people dead. The act gave school districts three options for providing security officers: using certified school resource officers, forming their own police force or using guardians who had received 132 hours of training and undergone several background screenings.