Okaloosa School District urging Legislators to increase funding for Safe-Schools Officers, Mental Health needs

On Monday, January 9, 2023, Okaloosa Superintendent of Schools, Marcus Chambers, presented the School District’s Legislative priorities for 2023.

  • These include Recruitment and Retention of employees and continued funding for safe and secure schools.

During Monday night’s school board meeting, Chambers emphasized the importance of continued funding for safe and secure schools.

“I think all of us know that [safe and secure schools] needs to continue to be a priority here in our district and across the state,” he stated.

He went on to highlight the efforts of Assistant Superintendent Steve Horton and Safety Program Director Danny Dean for their work in this area. Chambers emphasized the importance of increased funding to continue support for staffing requirements for safe-schools officers in every public school.

  • He acknowledged the district’s gratefulness for the partnership with the Okaloosa County Commissioners and the Okaloosa Sheriff’s Office in funding these efforts.
Okaloosa County School District Admin Complex in Fort Walton Beach

Chambers also expressed support for the Florida Department of Education Office of Safe Schools’ request to restore the original funding for district allocations of the school hardening grant and to authorize the flexibility of allowable expenditures to include safety-related, non-capital outlay expenditures to meet the specific needs of individual districts.

  • Basically, they are requesting “a little bit more flexibility” in the use of funding for school safety.

Finally, Chambers emphasized the importance of increased funding for mental health staffing and resources in public schools and connectivity with community-based mental health services.

He stated, “I think anything that we can continue to do to keep that, or even increase that, with the emphasis on mental health, is important.”

The District’s legislative priorities for 2023 will be presented to the Northwest Florida Legislative Delegation on Wednesday, January 11, 2023, by School Board Member Tim Bryant.

The Okaloosa Legislative Delegation meeting will be held at the Okaloosa County Administration Building. The meeting will start at 5:30 PM and end at 7:00 PM.

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