Columbia Board of Education candidates discussed guns in schools, school boundaries, attendance, budget and more in a debate and forum Thursday.
Three candidates are seeking two open seats in the election.
Candidate Della Streaty-Willhoit said she doesn’t believe guns should be in schools.
“We need the security of our kids, we need the security of our teachers, but we also need training in that area,” Streaty-Willhoit said. “I do not need teachers carrying guns, they need to be occupied with teaching our children.”
Streaty-Willhoit said she’s been a educator for more than 25 years and looks to improve the achievement gap in schools.
Candidate Jay Atkins said his investment in education is inspired by his own children and he would focus on improving literacy if elected.
Atkins gave his stance on guns in schools recommending buildings have specially trained personnel for security purposes.
“If necessary you can’t run can’t hide, you need to be able to fight back,” Atkins said. “Face the threat and neutralize that threat.”
Candidate Blake Willoughby said he would bring fresh views to the board with his young perspective. He said he hopes to integrate the arts into education to make it more well-rounded.
Willoughby said he grew up in Alabama and is familiar with guns but has mixed thoughts on guns in schools.
“The parents I have talked to and the teachers I have talked to feel uncomfortable with that,” he said.