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Broward Schools Superintendent Addresses Security Concerns

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Robert Runcie, Broward Schools Superintendent, held a wide-ranging discussion Wednesday afternoon about various security upgrades to county schools, a proposed property tax increase to pay for security personnel and a new district investigation into the actions of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School employees before, during and after last February's deadly shooting.

The Superintendent met with news reporters at Miramar High School where a new single point of entry improvement is in place. The school now features a large locked gate across the front entrance of the school along with additional fencing and new signage that will send visitors to the school's welcome area to check in.

"It's gonna be the new normal and folks are gonna have to adjust to it," Runcie said of the security measures at Miramar High and at schools across the county.

Runcie addressed the ongoing effort to create single point of entry security procedures for each school in the county, an effort that began before the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting.

"Essentially you'll come in here and you'll be funneled into this single point of entry access to the school.," he explained. "You won't be able to get anywhere else because the perimeter is secure."

Miramar High Principal Maria Formoso showed us around the campus, pointing out locked gates and places where certain campus security will be positioned.

"This gate here remains locked throughout the school day," she said outside a gate several feet from the new front entrance area.

Miramar High already has many security systems in place, like a wide ranging camera system while other Broward County Public schools will soon have camera systems upgraded or installed.

"Over 10,000 cameras, brand new system and we just recently authorized another $6.2 million dollars for additional cameras throughout Broward County," Runcie said.

Runcie said Wednesday that they'll need to hire additional people to monitor the millions of dollars of surveillance camera equipment that's being installed district-wide. He said that's one of the reasons he hopes voters approve a property tax increase next month to hire more security personnel.

"The legislature passed a bill but they did not provide sufficient funding to allow us to be able to hire at the level that we want," he said. "We want to go above and beyond having one school resource officer on every campus."

In response to the Stoneman Douglas shooting, Runcie said more armed guardians are being hired and trained, ID badges will be worn by everyone on campus and code red drills will be more frequent. He said the district is striving to balance security with providing a top quality education.

"It's hard to get to teaching and learning if you don't address safety first," Runcie said. "Unfortunately, it's a reality we have to deal with."

As for the metal detectors at Stoneman Douglas, Runcie said the district is still in the process of purchasing and installing the detectors. He's hopeful that will happen by the beginning of school.

"This is something new for us," Runcie said. "So again, it's a pilot. We're gonna learn from it. We'll be tweaking it as we go along. The goal is whatever we find and do that's effective at one school, we want to make sure we make it available at all schools."

Runcie also addressed a new district investigation being done by a retired Secret Service agent into the actions of Stoneman Douglas High school employees before, during and after the deadly shooting.

"It's about lessons learned and trying to figure out how we can get better as a system," he said.

Phil Schentrup's daughter, Carmen, died in the shooting. He said the investigation should have begun long ago…and he wants the principal at Stoneman Douglas — Ty Thompson — removed from the campus while the investigation moves forward.

"Why is a principal who let 17 people get killed then failed to secure his campus so the shooter's brother trespasses multiple times on the campus still in charge of trying to figure out the security for that school?" Schentrup told CBS 4 News on Tuesday. "He's failed."

But Runcie said they must let the investigation run its course.

"We're not gonna prematurely take action on staff at the school until we actually go through and do an investigation and if there are things that we find, certainly we're going to hold people accountable," he said.

With all the security improvements — locked gates, locked doors and other enhancements — Runcie said the most important thing is for all school personnel to have the same commitment to enforcing the safety measures day in and day out.

"There's no point in putting all these features in if we're not gonna make sure we're gonna utilize all those assets," he said.

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