HUNTINGTON STATION, N.Y. (PIX11) — The South Huntington School District is joining the ranks of districts with armed security guards outside all school buildings.

The school board voted unanimously Wednesday night to hire private security firm Upfront Security Associates, based in Melville. Guards, with concealed handguns, will be stationed outside all eight schools in the district starting next week.

“It’s a very sensitive topic — armed security — and this decision was not made lightly. We felt it was a necessary decision based on the frequency of school shootings,” said School Superintendent Vito D’Elia.

D’Elia said all the guards will be retired police officers who have active shooter training. They will have the power to make the decision to enter the school and engage the shooter, even before Suffolk police officers are able to respond.

“The quicker we’re able to respond, the better chance we have of saving lives,” D’Elia said.

At a school board meeting Wednesday night, some parents spoke out against it. One man said, “You should know that you are voting for a proposal that’s not grounded in science, not grounded in any research, or data or evidence.”

The private security firm will cost the South Huntington School District $750,000 per year. The district will also be adding additional stations to monitor security cameras, as well as building more safety vestibules.