LAKELAND, Fla. — Just as in Hillsborough County, safety and security are top concerns as the new school year gets started in Polk County.
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In Lakeland, some students returning to Kathleen High School said they were excited but others said they could have used a few more weeks of summer.
Meanwhile, the students were met with many changes for the new school year, with safety being at the top of the list.
Among those: Each bus in Polk County is now equipped with emergency radios that connect directly to a 911 call center. And each bus also will have GPS tracking to see if buses are running late.
All schools also will now staff an armed person specifically trained to respond should a threatening situation arise as part of its new guardian program, along with a 24-hour real-time crime center so anyone that makes a threat can be investigated immediately.
"I feel pretty confident that the school board and the school can work together to make sure that our kids do stay safe because safety is a priority for our schools," said parent Anna Perkins. "I’ve known that and I’ve been in our school system myself. I never felt unsafe and everything is going great, and I have good confidence that they will keep our kids safe."