With school violence on the rise nationwide, the security and safety of students has prompted many districts to consider new avenues of protecting their staff and student body.
At the Dec. 17 regular board meeting, school board members heard about a program from Gina Powell and Ken Reynolds from American Bail Bonds in Galion through Buckeye Firearms Association to thoroughly train individuals who volunteer to carry guns in school.
“The first step is getting the permit in an eight-hour class through our business,” explained Reynolds. “That’s six hours of classroom time and two hours on the gun range.”
He emphasized this happens only after board approval for staff to ‘carry concealed,’ then training commences.
“That’s just the first step,” he added. “That doesn’t mean a teacher can bring their weapon onto school property. That’s a decision that has to be made by the board; you’ll have to put it up for a vote.”
What Reynolds offers is a presentation to a person (selected by the board) to relay the information to the board, who can then makes a decision whether or not to progress.
“If you decide to go forward with the program, which is listed on the Ohio Board of Education webpage, their program makes sure we follow all the rules that go with this,” Reynolds stated. “At that time, we can match you up with the funding that’s needed – at no cost to the school system – and match you up with an instructor.”
Reynolds said the school board still holds complete responsibility for their decision and, based on certain criteria, they choose staff members best suited to carry.
“It’s not ‘for’ every teacher,” Reynolds acknowledged. “This will meet your emergency preparedness requirements you have with the state – this will just be another tool you have.”
Powell added none of the students should know who is carrying a gun, because ‘that’s part of protecting them.’ They are offering this opportunity to Galion and Northmor schools and is open to any employee – not just teachers. She said they have had quite a few from Galion schools who are interested. Powell said some staff don’t want to ‘carry’ themselves but ‘wouldn’t mind other staff members carrying.’
Superintendent Chad Redmond asked about ‘biometric safes’ versus having the weapon on the person.
Powell said nerves and panic slow down reaction.
“When you’re under pressure it’s hard to stay calm and get to a safe and open it,”she responded. “When it’s immediately available, the reaction time is faster.” She said school violence can happen anywhere, and time is of the essence.
Reynolds concluded if they board assigns someone to gather information, they go through different kinds of ammunition and options. “It’s up to the school board how you do it,” he said.
Redmond said he and the board have had discussions about it, and it’s definitely a very controversial topic, with people on both sides of the fence. “In talking with the board, our concern is response time,” he said.
In other business, K-4 Principal Amanda Albert and Intervention Specialist Sarah Creswell led fifth and six grade students in a presentation for the board about the Ohio Positive Behavioral Interventions program that has been implemented at the elementary school. It’s a reward based program that promotes a more peaceful, courteous and positive learning environment for students. Earlier this month, Northmor Elementary was one of 22 schools recognized by the state for their successful implementation of the program.
– Employ Neil Gilliland as a full time bus driver, effective February 1, 2016.
– Accept the letter of resignation from Jamie Christo as Co-Varsity Assistant Wrestling Coach.
– Recognize Jamie Christo as a volunteer in the capacity of Varsity Assistant Wrestling Coach for the 2015-2016 school year.
– Correct the contract of Kevin Johnson that was previously approved in September to reflect the following: Employ Kevin Johnson as the Varsity Assistant Wrestling Coach for the 2015-2016 school year.
– Accept the resignation of Kendall Williams as the Assistant Girls’ Basketball Coach for the 2015-2016 school year.
– Employ for teh 2016 season: Darrell Adkins the Junior High School Softball Coach; Katie Burns as the Co-Assistant Varsity Softball Coach; Dave Boggs as the Co-Assistant Varsity Softball Coach; and recognize Dave Tate in the capacity of a volunteer Assistant Softball Coach.
The next board of education meeting on Jan. 12, the board will vote whether to move monthly meetings to Tuesday evenings at 6:30 pm for 2016.
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