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Thousands of people support students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in a rally for gun control at the Florida capitol (2/21/18).The Florida legislature is poised to pass some of the most sweeping gun control and mental health reforms in more than 20 years. The moves come as lawmakers face pressure from students affected by the Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.On Valentine's Day, a 19-year-old in Parkland opened fire on his former classmates at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He killed 14 students, three adults, and injured 14 others. There were warning signs, yet, all, including a tip to the FBI, were missed.That day, school safety measures in place, like school resource officers, restricted access and fencing--all failed.In the wake of the shooting, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas have mobilized, calling on the legislature to take greater action to prevent school and mass shootings. Lawmakers, it seems, are finally listening.https://youtu.be/6PRPEfu7WPg

Hanna Talks Safety, Mental Health And School Improvement As Students Go Back To School

Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna speaking with Bond Elementary school students during lunch.
Leon County Schools twitter

Some 34,000 Leon County Students headed back to school Monday and with a new school year comes changes, mostly related to school safety.

This year, elementary schools will have resource officers patrolling the halls and the district is also putting in place a new mental health screening. 

“There’s been a lot of conversation this Summer not just about physical safety but about mental health. We have mental health counselors in all our schools including our elementary schools where if we see a kid in crisis we can call the parents in and kind of counsel with the and get some outside resources to get kids the help they need," says Leon Superintendent Rocky Hanna.

The new safety and mental health resources funded party by the state which approved the extra dollars in the wake of the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Meanwhile some district elementary schools will see smaller classes. It comes as the district tries to boost student performance at Pineview and Oakridge Elementary schools. Both are in danger of being taken over by the state if students don’t make progress on the annual statewide exam.

“We’ve been meeting with those administrators over the summer to reduce class size especially in grades three, four and five. The max number we’re looking at is 17. We’re looking at numbers here for Bond Elementary, 12 to 13 kids in a class, so we’re driving those numbers down to help kids be successful in the spring.”

Some studies have shown students do better in smaller classes. Yet those class sizes have waffled in recent years doue to legislative changes, despite a Florida constitutional amendment that says there should be no more than 18 students in pre-kindegarten through 3rd grade classes; 22 students in fourth through eighth grade, and 25 students in high school classes.

Follow @HatterLynn

Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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