School bus drivers

School buses sit at the ready at the Lecanto bus garage. School security is back on the agenda for today's school board meeting.

Citrus County School Board members will continue discussing Tuesday whether to participate in a program designed to train armed individuals to provide added security in schools.

Board members are expected to decide whether to ask Sheriff Mike Prendergast to provide training should the board choose to participate in the guardian program.

The school board meeting starts at 4 p.m. at the district administrative office, 1007 W. Main St., Inverness.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act, named for the South Florida school where a gunman killed 17 students and teachers on Feb. 14, requires a resource officer in each school.

While the state provided some funding for that mandate, both the school district and county combined to pay $2.5 million toward the program.

Additional state money is available through the act’s Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, which provides firearm training for school personnel.

Some school board members voiced support for the guardian program during an August board meeting, so long as it doesn’t involve teachers.

Instead, the district could hire retired law enforcement officers or retired members of the military to receive firearms training and provide additional security at schools, Assistant Superintendent of Schools Mike Mullen said.

On Tuesday, the board will decide whether to approve the guardian program and send a letter to Prendergast, asking that he participate by providing the training.

In other business Tuesday, the board will vote on an amendment to the student code of conduct that changes the wording on zero tolerance from school-related violent crime to school-related violent behavior.

The policy requires a minimum mandatory expulsion of one year for students who bring a firearm to school, making a threat or false report, and other violations.

The amendment is due to a change in state law, Mullen said.

Also Tuesday, the board has a 5:30 p.m. public hearing to finalize the 2018-19 budget and tax rates. The proposed budget is set at $218 million and the tax rate at 6.579 mills. One mill equals $1 for every $1,000 of taxable value on property.

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Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or mwright@chronicleonline.com.

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