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School board discusses arming teachers


The massacre of 17 students and staff at a high school in Florida on Valentine’s Day wasn’t far from everyone’s mind when school safety became a topic at Monday night’s school board meeting in Coulee Dam.

The issue of guns in schools occupied about 15 minutes of the meeting as members of the Grand Coulee Dam School District Board of Directors took the opportunity to share their thinking regarding the idea of arming teachers in local schools.

School board Chair Joette Barry said Tuesday that arming teachers is not just a board issue, but it is a “community” issue.

“Before we would even consider arming teachers, we would want to have a public meeting where school patrons and staff could share their concerns and ideas,” Barry stated.

Superintendent Paul Turner had suggested that “guns” be a topic on Monday night’s school board agenda, for board members to comment on their feelings about it.

Turner had said earlier that he was personally “initially opposed” to the idea of arming teachers, but noted that it was not only a board issue, but a teacher issue and a community issue.

Board members did not commit to being for or against arming teachers, but member Ken Stanger agreed that it was a community issue, one that would not be decided by the school board alone.

Rich Black, another school board member, said it is unfortunate that we live in a culture that over the years has become so violent. “I think we need to have public support for whatever is done, but I think there might be some ways that we can raise the barriers to help prevent violence here,” Black stated.

In Florida, there has been a movement to arm teachers after proper police training, after the recent shooting there. President Donald Trump has been vocal in promoting it.

“I know of one district in our state that is leaning that way,” Turner stated. “We will need to continue this discussion.”

Board chair Barry said that the gun issue would probably be on the agenda again at the board’s next meeting.

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