Monday’s final budget keeps alive $8 million to implement a new panic alarm system throughout Florida’s public and charter schools.
The system is named after Alyssa Alhadeff, one of 17 people murdered during the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
The measure tasks the Department of Education (DOE) to set up a model alert system to ensure school officials can contact nearby law enforcement quickly in the event of an emergency.
DOE officials will consult with counterparts at the Division of Emergency Management, the Department of Law Enforcement and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission to create the system.
School districts are also free to pursue their own system, so long as it is “a mobile panic alert system capable of connecting diverse emergency services technologies to ensure real-time coordination between multiple first responder agencies.”
The legislation originally called for $8 million from the general revenue fund to implement the system statewide.
Whether that funding would go through was a major question, however, as the state deals with a budget shortfall due to the economic impact of COVID-19.
On Monday, DeSantis vetoed more than $1 billion in funding from the state’s original $93.2 billion budget. But the full $8 million for Alyssa’s Alert survived.
“This crucial legislation will require the use of panic alarms in Florida schools and will help ensure that first responders can find the emergency when seconds matter most,” Rep. Dan Daley said after DeSantis approved the funding.
Daley partnered with Rep. Michael Gottlieb on the House version of the bill (HB 23). Sen. Lauren Book was behind the Senate version, which ultimately passed.
Rep. Chip LaMarca, who also supported the legislation, thanked the Governor as well for keeping the $8 million in funding in the final budget.
Lawmakers approved SB 70 in March. New Jersey also passed a bill in 2019 requiring panic alarms in public schools. Alhadeff attended school in New Jersey before moving to South Florida.