By: Eugene Flinn – Mayor of Palmetto Bay
The Parkland shoot has led to conversations I never thought possible – talk of families pulling students out of area schools. School safety cannot wait. Our children’s safety is too important. Since the devastating shooting in Parkland, I have been working with fellow mayors and our County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava to do our local/municipal part in making schools safer.
I personally met with our State leaders and our School Board Leaders, including Current Chair, Ms. Perla Tabares Hantman, District 4 and Ms. Susie V. Castillo, District 5. I also held a telephone conference with our own School Board Representative, Dr. Lawrence S. Feldman, District 9. Based upon their feedback, I was able to prepare a memorandum and School Safety Legislative Plan Resolution to be presented to our council.
I brought this memorandum and resolution to a Special Council Meeting on Wednesday February 21st. Due to the importance of the topic, I asked that it not wait for our next scheduled council meeting set for March 4th. I asked for and received unanimous co-sponsorship of a resolution in support of the School Board request asking the legislature to provide an additional 30 million dollars to increase police and security at our schools.
Additionally, your village council is addressing more than school hardening. While the action I prepared and brought forward on School Safety passed unanimously, we went even further. I was pleased to work with our Vice Mayor during this same Special Council meeting to address concerns about properly funding mental health issues. Working with him, I wrote an additional add-on resolution during this Special Council Meeting with the Vice Mayor seeking funding specific to address the mental health issues far too prevalent in our National, State and Local Communities. Thank you Vice Mayor. Again, this effort received unanimous support from the entire council.
As your Mayor, I continue to work to address school safety along with the Mayors and Council Members of neighboring Pinecrest, and Cutler Bay as well as our County Commissioner. We all agree it is critical to address and enhance school safety. Palmetto Bay is proud to partner with the Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Since my first term as Mayor, Palmetto Bay has worked within our schools on important programs including the Stranger Danger, DARE and RADKids. We have assigned officers that work these programs. Officers have also been assigned to be present in and around schools to oversee the traffic and safety surrounding the schools in the community.
It is unfortunate that Palmetto Bay, like all local governments in Florida, County and municipal, is pre-empted by the Florida Legislature from creating local ordinances to address safety concerns. We turn to our legislature to properly address and fund the efforts of the Miami-Dade County School Board to, in part, hardening and modifying its school grounds in response to school attacks as well as funding for increases in police both internally and in coordination with local adjoining jurisdictions – including Miami-Dade county and applicable municipalities.
I have also asked our Manager to work with all schools to determine whether our schools can create a part-time “work station” within each school, as well as requesting that our police officers monitor and work from the schools as much as possible. This is in addition to and not as a replacement to our existing student safety programs that I have been proud to have been given the opportunity to facilitate these past few years.
I am working with Mayors Joe Corradino of Pinecrest and Peggy Bell of Cutler Bay to bring together each of our Youth Boards to hold a youth/student forum on schools safety. I have heard from many parents and their students as to their concerns. The voice of our students is important. Our first meeting on this issue was held at the Youth Board meeting held on Wednesday, Feb 21. Pinecrest Council Woman Cheri Ball attended on behalf of their community. The students are working on this event and we are assisting them. I encourage you to have your student attend this meeting which will be held on or about March 12th. A separate notice will be sent out when all the details are in place.
It goes without saying that it takes a village to make sure that our children remain safe. This is an issue that knows no boundaries, we all have a responsibility to a safer community through improving school safety. Our leaders, police, school administrators, teachers, school support staff, parents, school volunteers and yes – students included will work hard to make sure that our community remains safe. We have a continual obligation to make sure that we are doing all we can to partner with them to make sure that Palmetto Bay remains a safe place to live, work, play and learn.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact me at either (305) 302-3713 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .