Arming school staff: Where each Tampa Bay superintendent stands

10News asked every school district in Tampa Bay where their superintendent stands on the Guardian Program.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The school safety bill that passed the state legislature this week includes money to arm and train some school staff.

It's part of the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, named in honor of the coach who died protecting students during the Parkland shooting.

The program excludes full-time teachers. It’s also unlikely coaches and librarians will be carrying guns if superintendents have their way.

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Modeled after Polk County's Sentinel Program, it is one of the most controversial elements of the school safety bill.

“The Sentinel Program is absolutely working,” Sheriff Grady Judd said.

However, Polk County's superintendent is not a fan.

“I will not support or recommend any measure that seeks to arm our teachers or staff,” Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd said in a video message:

10News asked every Tampa Bay school district where their superintendent stands on the Guardian Program.

Superintendents in Polk, Pasco and Manatee counties are against arming any school staff.

“If they ignore some of our recommendations, that's their responsibility,” Judd said.

The sheriff is expected to attend a a school board meeting next week where school security will be discussed. Judd said he will make recommendations but it's up to the district to decide what to do.

Hillsborough, Pinellas and Sarasota counties haven't ruled out the program yet.

Byrd supports more money for school resource officers and security. Even districts considering the Guardian Program seem to prefer those options over arming staff.

Ultimately, the decision is up to each county's school board, but it could come down to money. If the governor signs the school safety bill into law, districts will have to assign at least one "safe-school officer" to every school. They have two options: law enforcement or a "guardian."

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