School Board Speaks Up
More than two years after the Wyoming State Legislature passed a bill giving individual school districts the authority to decide whether to arm school staff, the Campbell County School District (CCSD) Board of Trustees has directed district administration to move forward with drafting such a policy.
In that time frame, the district’s safety committee has hosted three public listening sessions, polled the staff, and also posted an online survey for the community. The overall findings show that the majority of those polled support a district policy that would allow district staff to carry concealed firearms on school property within the guidelines of statute 21-3-132.
Trustee Lisa Durgin pointed out that school board meetings are rarely well attended by the general public. However, the gallery was packed at last night’s meeting as parents, former and current teachers, and school resource officers took turns addressing the board during the public comment session.
Of the 13 public comments at last night’s meeting, the majority were against arming educators.
After a brief update on the process from Deputy Superintendent Kirby Eisenhauer, Board Chair Anne Ochs praised her fellow board members for their handling of the matter.
“We’ve done our job the way it’s supposed to be done,” said Ochs, adding that there have been no back-door conversations and no one is pushing a particular agenda.
Before each trustee took the opportunity to finally voice their own thoughts on the issue, Ochs reminded the gallery to show them the same respect by not commenting as the trustees spoke.
Although, not all of the trustees were in favor of arming school staff, they all agreed that moving forward to draft a policy would allow the discussion to continue and address more logistical concerns.
Ochs also instructed district administration to talk to City of Gillette officials about adding four additional school resource officers (SRO). That would allow for a full-time SRO at each junior high and the other three would rotate between the in-town elementary schools.
Ochs said she wants to see the continued discussion include four separate options:
- Do nothing – continue with the safety measures that are currently in place at schools.
- Arm staff – draft a policy and regulation to outline the process.
- Add four SROs to the current Gillette Police Force in coordination with CCSD.
- Train district employees to act as SROs.
The trustees also seemed to reach a consensus that special consideration is necessary to address the safety of rural schools within the district.
Superintendent Alex Ayers said drafting the new policy will most likely take a few months.
No vote was taken on the matter. As with any additions or changes to existing policy, the school board directs district administration to draft or review the policy and regulations, which typically go hand-in-hand. Before any policy is adopted, it must go through a public hearing process and two separate readings before the school board.