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Alachua County School Board Approves New Security Chief Position

Alachua County School Board members approved the new position of Chief of Safety and School Security at Tuesday’s meeting.
Alachua County School Board members approved the new position of Chief of Safety and School Security at Tuesday’s meeting.

The Alachua County School Board approved a new position, Chief of Safety and School Security, for the 2018-19 school year in a meeting Tuesday night. Karen Clarke, superintendent of Alachua County Public Schools proposed the position to the board in response to recent school safety concerns.

The board is looking for a current law enforcement officer with experience working with children, Clarke said. While the position is not yet filled, the new chief will be a sworn police officer tasked with implementing a new security program. The school district's goal is to provide a safe and secure environment for students, staff, and visitors, according to the posted job description.

“We have a lot of different people who work with safety and security in our schools for different things: facilities, training, and risk management," Clarke said. "But we needed one point of contact.”

The new official will work as a liaison between the schools and the four law enforcement agencies in the district. Clarke believes this new position will allow for more efficiency.

The Chief of Safety and School Security position will coordinate with the county and will be in charge of the whole school system in Alachua County, according to Gunnar F. Paulson, the 3rd District board member.

“It was brought to light what we need," Paulson said. "We don’t want to wait until something happens here, we want to be proactive."

Paulson believes this new official can coordinate the whole program and ensure every school in the district is much safer.

While the board has not yet determined the salary, this newly approved position would be allocated in the 2018-2019 fiscal budget with no additional costs to this year’s budget. The school board has narrowed down several departments to provide funding for this new role.

“It ends up becoming budget neutral,” Clarke said. “We have several departments that we are looking at. We have a lot of folks retiring in some different areas, and we are reorganizing some of these positions. It’s freeing up some of our administrative positions, but it doesn’t increase the administrators.”

Clarke has a goal to be as efficient as possible and believes it’s not just about adding positions for the sake of adding positions. The school board is starting this process now because new positions like this usually start around July 1, the start of the fiscal year.

Najla is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.