NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre said yesterday that there should be an armed police officer at every school in the country. Aside from the fact that there have been incidents where there were already people with guns protecting a facility and still a shooter got in and did his carnage — Fort Hood, for example — let’s indulge Mr. LaPierre in his masturbatory Rambo fantasy and put one well-trained armed guard at every school in the country. How will he pay for it? The cost would be out of the reach of most school districts, and even if Congress decided to pay for every one of them via a federal grant, it would be a budget buster.
Let’s just take a look at one school district. How about one I know pretty well, such as Miami-Dade County Public Schools. It is the fourth-largest district in the country, with over 347,000 students. It has 354 schools or facilities with students, so we’ll need one guard per school. Let’s say that the base average salary of a guard is $75,000. I know that seems a little high for a cop, but we’re talking average salary, not starting.
But you just don’t pay for the base salary and you’re done. There are other costs, such as paying into their retirement account, Social Security and Medicare contributions which the District has to pick up a portion of, contribution to health insurance, and the required payment of workers compensation, liability, and unemployment insurance, all required under contract or state or federal law. So let’s do the numbers:
- Salary: $75,000.00
- Retirement – 5.26%: $3,945.00
- Social Security – 6.20%: $4,650.00
- Medicare – 1.45%: $1,088.00
- Health Insurance – $8,732.00 (lump sum per full-time employee)
- Workers Comp, etc. – 2.70%: $2,025.00
- TOTAL: $95,440.00
That’s per school, per year, and it does not include overtime or shift differential if they work nights. Even without that factored in, it would come to a total of $33,785,583.00 for the entire district. Plus you need to add the indirect cost allowance which is included in every federal grant. The current rate is 3.77%, which amounts to $1,237,716, which brings it to a grand total of $35,059,299.00
Too much? Okay, let’s say that they will only pay $75,000 per guard, including the fringes. That brings the salary down to $57,320.00, but it is still going to cost $27,550,808.00 when you figure in the fringes and indirect.
What if we hired private security firms to do all the work and avoid paying all that stuff like retirement and health insurance? After all, those are just entitlements, right? Okay, but a private firm is going to add those costs into the contract, plus this being America and all, there’s going to be a profit written into the contract, and even if it’s a tiny little margin like 3%, it’s still going to cost the same if not more than if they were school employees.
This does not include the cost of the additional insurance that the schools will need to pay for having someone walking around carrying a gun. That’s something you’ll need to take up with Risk Management, but my guess is that it will add about 5% to the budget.
That’s for one school district, albeit a big one. But let’s extrapolate that out to every district in the country, and lets round the number of schools to 100,000. We’re now into the $10 billion range. That’s billion with a B. And that does not include private schools, which will also need the guards and who aren’t all St. Grottlesex with huge endowments of money to pay for them.
For what it’s worth, there was an armed guard at Columbine, Virginia Tech has a police force as do most colleges and universities, and Fort Hood is an Army base. Miami-Dade County Public Schools has a police force as well; they are fully-sworn police officers, the same as the cops on the job in the state of Florida. Despite their best efforts, we have had tragedies at our schools. So aside from the absolute asshattery of the idea, I kind of doubt that too many Republicans, no matter their standing with the NRA, are willing to whoop through billions of dollars for something that probably wouldn’t work in the first place.
(By the way, this is the kind of thing I do all day at work, and I’m supposed to be on vacation.)