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Columbia schools to revisit arming director of safety

In Missouri more school districts are looking to arm some staff members.

School districts are spending countless hours and a lot of taxpayer dollars on security plans.

Next week Columbia’s School Board will be revisiting the issue of whether to allow the district’s director of safety and security and his assistant to carry guns inside schools, something the board voted down about a year ago.

While the idea of arming any school staff member may seem foreign to some, the reality is it’s happening.

School security has been changing in the past few years. Buzz-in systems just to get inside to active shooter drills where teachers and kids are purposely caught off-guard, and now some teachers and staff armed with guns.

Paul Fennewald with the Missouri School Boards’ Association says it’s a sad commentary that we even consider arming the people that are there to teach our kids, but that it needs to be a community decision.

Some districts are turning to Shield Solutions in the South Central Missouri city of West Plains. Currently the company is working with about a dozen districts in the state.

One of those is Climax Springs, in Camden County. It’s now in it’s first year of the program. Like most schools they don’t reveal who is carrying.

In the state of Missouri there are currently two ways schools can arm staff.

One is through recent legislation creating a school protection officer. If schools go this route they must notify the Department of Public Safety which keeps a list of all school protection officers in the state. There are also training standards, but as of now officials say no schools are moving in this direction.

Schools instead are taking the other route to arm staff and that’s local school boards deciding who will be allowed to carry a concealed weapon on school grounds. This is not tracked by the Department of Public Safety. In fact, ABC 17 News couldn’t find any group that is tracking it.

Most Mid-Missouri districts are keeping plans the same and not arming staff.

In the Columbia district, the board will again look at whether to allow the director of safety and security and his assistant to carry guns in schools. This time around some changes were made to the wording on the training those two employees would go through.

They are both retired Columbia police officers and are currently in charge of taking care of security plans for the district.

School Board President, Christine King, says there is no plan to arm teachers.

Overall though, whatever school districts decide to do to protect kids, education leaders like Fennewald want everyone to be a part of the process.

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