In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, many people are focusing their efforts on discussing how such a tragedy could have been prevented.
I’ll leave the mental health and gun control debates to others, since those areas of discussion are often occupied by the shrill and/or uninformed — and that applies to both sides.
Which is not to say there aren’t practical folks discussing those topics. There are. It’s just that all I seem to see and hear on social media and in the news is just, well, often not those people.
So, I’ll focus on another aspect of the debate that people have suggested: Security guards in schools. How practical is it for each to have them? How much would it cost?
As you can imagine, it would cost a pretty penny:
By my back of the napkin estimate, it would cost about $9 billion a year. Or $8,893,530,000 if you want to get more precise, but that’s a low end estimate.
How did I figure this? By last estimate, there are 98,817 public educational institutions in the United States. I assume an average of three guards per school, at a level of payment of $30,000 a year each.
It’s a low end estimate because of a few reasons. Hiring costs. Insurance & benefits. Oversight. Vehicles and equipment. Unionization. There’s more, but you get the point — in reality, my estimate is likely to be off by a few billion dollars.
The Department of Education’s budget is about $68 billion, so for some perspective, that would represent about 13 percent of it.
Now the Department of Education’s budget is not what funds the majority of school-related spending. Most of that comes from state and local funding sources.
Many school districts already employ security guards. Some outsource that to local police, which supplants their normal duties and is essentially transferring the cost from the school to the police department.
Putting security guards in schools is often popular, but not everywhere. One thing’s for sure, it doesn’t come without very real costs.