Sgt. Spencer Bryan was at Stanley Switlik Elementary on Monday morning. The Monroe County Sheriff’s office will have a full-time presence at the school for the rest of the school year. SARA MATTHIS/Keys Weekly

Sgt. Spencer Bryan was greeting children this morning (May 14) at Stanley Switlik Elementary. Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay said he will be putting a school resource officer at Stanley School Elementary in Marathon for the last two weeks of school.

“I am doing this out of the sheriff’s budget because it is the right thing to do,” Ramsay said, “although it is technically the responsibility of the Monroe County School District to finance this.”

Every district school in Monroe County has full-time school resource officers (SROs), with the exception of elementary-only facilities. Poinciana and Gerald Adams elementary schools in Key West are policed part time by officers of the Key West Police Department. The school district has employment agreements with both law enforcement agencies to staff the schools, and expenses are shared.

On May 8, about 60 parents attended a school board meeting at Marathon High School to advocate for more security at Stanley Switlik School. At the meeting, parents discuss the PTO initiative of inviting first responders in the area to visit school as often as possible. Since the plea, representatives of the sheriff’s office, county and city fire rescue, Coast Guard and Fish and Wildlife Commission have all made a point of visiting campus at the beginning of the day, lunch or recess … even the P.E. class.

Now, Stanley Switlik Elementary School will have a sheriff’s deputy on campus from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. everyday. No single officer has been assigned. Rather, it will be staffed by deputies who rotate in and out of the position for the remainder of the school year.

Next year, Monroe County School District will be implementing the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, a legislative response to the Parkland school shooting tragedy in February 2018. How the state, school and law enforcement agencies will fund the required changes is unclear. Although funds have been set aside at the state level to pay for a resource officer in every Florida school — $97.5 million — how those funds will be allocated between districts has yet to be determined.

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  1. The school district would have no problem funding a safety offer at the elementary school if they were not allocating hundreds of thousands of dollars to AHEC for so called free clinics which are not free for insured students and staff. Where does that profit go? At least now when the Principal blows his top and is abusive with staff or students, they have a police presence to witness. Sure could have used him there the day I resigned after he attacked me in his office. The students of Marathon deserve better!

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