College football and inclement weather resulted in poor turnout Thursday night for the Eagle Point School District Weapons Safety Committee.
But those attending heard preliminary numbers for safety features that ran the gamut from creating crisis assessment plans to hiring school resource officers to arming staff members.
Charged with coming up with a plan to improve student safety in the district, and specifically with whether to arm teachers, only eight of the committee's 20 members managed to attend.
"Where is everybody? This is more important than a football game," said committee member Terry Marks, an Eagle Point resident.
Marks, a former police sergeant from La Mesa, Calif., was referring to the college football showdown between Oregon and Stanford, which was televised Thursday night.
The lack of attendees prompted Allen Barber, the district's human resources director and committee facilitator, to cancel the planned speaker and hold an informal discussion regarding relative costs for different deterrents.
"I apologize we have such poor attendance for the meeting," said Barber.
Stressing the figures were preliminary, Barber told the small group that hiring a school resource officer for each of the district's schools would cost $575,000 initially, with an annual cost thereafter of $525,000. Putting in security glass that allowed for only one-way viewing would require an initial investment of $22,000, he said.
"That was something that someone on this committee suggested," Barber said, adding putting in bullet-proof glass would cost around $75 per square foot.
Hiring armed security guards for each campus would come in at around $450,000 annually, he said. Putting in the Nexar Security System like the one installed at Shady Cove School and demonstrated for the committee during in the October's meeting would cost almost $2 million, with an additional $36,000 per year operation fee, Barber said.
Barber said the district does plan to purchase a social media tipline at each school for a combined cost of $11,500 which will allow parents and students to inform teachers and law enforcement of threats.
"We're going to go down that road," he said.
Barber recently attended a meeting where Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher Kaitlin Roig spoke about hearing the sounds of bullets shattering glass at her school in Newtown, Conn. Roig swept her first-grade students into the school bathroom, where they hunkered down as the shooter murdered children in the nearby classrooms, he said.
Roig didn't discuss the issue of guns in classrooms at the seminar, Barber said.
"One thing she said was that every person in a crisis situation will respond differently," Barber said.
Marks, who has steadfastly opposed the notion of arming staff members, disputed the safety measure chart's $48,900 figure for training and insuring teachers to carry weapons. The chart also listed an annual cost of $45,000.
"You don't know how much training they are going to need to receive or how much that will cost," Marks said.
Greg Mead, a fire arms safety expert and fellow committee member, is in favor of allowing teachers to be armed. At October's meeting, Mead handed out a three-page pro/con list detailing his thoughts on different options for that to occur.
At Thursday's meeting, Mead sited a district that had removed their prohibition against teachers who had concealed carry permits from bringing their weapons to school. Allowing teachers to make the choice was "pretty much the trend" for school districts, he said.
Barber said he took the question of arming teachers to the student leadership class at Eagle Point High School. His initial query about whether or not teachers should be allowed to have weapons in the classroom garnered a 15 to nine vote in the affirmative with about six students stating they were undecided. After the students debated the issue, Barber asked for another vote.
"It came out nine (in favor) and 15 (against)," Barber said, adding between six and nine students raised their hands to say they were undecided on the issue.
Barber is working with a research expert to create a questionnaire that will go out in preparation for the district's first community forum meeting, which was tentatively slated for late November or early December, he said. No date was set Thursday for the next committee meeting.