FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – On Wednesday morning more than 270,000 students and 33,000 Broward School District employees headed back to one of the county’s 330 schools.
And according to school leaders, teachers and teacher’s union representatives, so far, so good.
“I’ve called this our version of ‘Gameday,’” said Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie at an afternoon news conference.
Runcie spoke about increased security measures and police presence on school campuses this year.
He said there is single point of entry at each traditional school, safe spaces in classrooms where possible and each school — except for possibly one charter school — has an armed safe school officer on campus.
Runcie also mentioned the new real time crime center at the Broward Sheriff’s Office where law enforcement has access to 10,000 school surveillance cameras.
“The more eyes and ears and law enforcement folks that are looking to protect our kids and employees, I think that’s a big plus,” Runcie said.
The changes impressed some like Shawn Barnhardt whose daughter attends Fort Lauderdale High School.
“I thought it was very secure when I took paperwork in the other day and that they have a lot of appearance of security around the campus so I feel very comfortable with her here,” Barnhardt told CBS4 News.
One bit of controversy arose Wednesday when the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission recommended an end to the school district’s diversionary Promise Program.
That program came under scrutiny after the Parkland shooting. Reports say the commission feels those diversionary programs for troubled students to avoid arrest should be handled by the criminal justice system. Runcie defended the program and said there is a lot of misinformation about the program.
“The Promise Program is not available to any student who commit felonies or criminal offenses,” Runcie said. “Those students are arrested. They’re dealt with through the courts, the state’s attorney, the criminal process.”
Runcie also said there is increased funding this year for mental health issues and he also highlighted the work being done in Broward schools like dozens of innovative programs and certification programs for students.