Tampa, Florida -- Kindergartners carrying their backpacks past an armed guard.
That's the plan that's set to be voted on in a special meeting of the Hillsborough County School Board on Wednesday. If it's approved, the proposal would put an armed security officer in each of the county's elementary schools.
Hillsborough Schools Superintendent MaryEllen Elia put this plan on the table for her district after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
This past Saturday marked one year since the Sandy Hook shooting.
All of Hillsborough County's middle and high schools have school resource officers or deputies. This would add a similar layer of security with the county's youngest students.
The cost is steep: $4.5 million.
The new security force would be phased in over four years and it would not be done with sworn law enforcement officers. The district would jump-start the program with 10 sheriff's deputies, but they'll eventually be replaced, leaving all of the patrolling in elementary schools to armed guards in police-style uniforms, hired by the school district.
Right now, there are already armed officers in 19 of the county's elementary schools. This proposal means hiring around 125 more.
The Hillsborough County School Board has hesitated on the plan in the past, but will vote on it Wednesday at 2 p.m.
The ACLU of Florida's president is not a fan of the plan and he outlined his reasons in a Tampa Tribune editorial.
He argues the $4.5 million idea is a dramatic overreaction to what are, truly, very rare shootings in schools that are blown out of proportion by the news coverage they get.
The armed guards in Hillsborough County will perform limited duties and will not have the power to arrest students.
Still, the ACLU's president argues adding officers to schools feeds the "school-to-prison pipeline" -- a cycle that can scar a young student's real-world record for life.
He points out, "Problems once resolved in the principal's office often end up in the juvenile justice system."
The school board's vote is set for just after 2 p.m. Wednesday. We'll tell you what they decide right away here on wtsp.com and on 10 News at 5.
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