Opinions sought on giving guns to teachers
The Eagle Point School District's Weapons Safety Committee wants to know how parents and community members feel about arming teachers before it makes a final recommendation to the School Board in May.
A public forum will be held at 5 p.m. today at the Hillside Elementary School gymnasium, 185 E. Main St., Eagle Point.
A panel of four committee members — retired police officer Terry Marks, firearms instructor Greg Mead, parent Nita Lundberg and Eagle Point Middle School Principal Joni Parsons — will hear public comments and field questions.
"We don't want gun- rights advocates or those on the extreme ends of the issue who don't have a relationship with the schools," said Marks, who has two children at Eagle Point Middle School. "We'd rather see parents of children who attend the school district and have valid concerns about the safety of our schools."
The board charged the committee with reviewing the schools' current safety measures and researching new safety features for schools, including possibly arming teachers.
The committee has considered a variety of options: bulletproof glass at the schools' main entrances, buzzed entries, single access points to school campuses, armed security guards and state-of-the-art equipment, such as a security system with door locks, panic buttons and cameras that can be accessed by law enforcement in the event of an emergency.
"Obviously cost is a factor in anything we do," Marks said.
"There's advantages and disadvantages to everything, but I'm still opposed to arming teachers," he added.
The committee will present a recommendation, based on its research and the public's response, to the board at its May 14 meeting.
"This is a very hot-button topic, and it's really important to get as much input from the community and taxpayers as possible," said board member Dan Hodges. "We don't necessarily just want to arm teachers, we want to do what the public wants us to do, and I want to know that when my kid is in school that he is safe."
A regularly scheduled School Board meeting will be held following the public forum at 6:30 p.m. in the Hillside Elementary gym.
Reach education reporter Teresa Thomas at 541-776-4497 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her at www.twitter.com/teresathomas_mt.