GARDEN VALLEY – Officials with the Garden Valley School District weighed the issue arming staff members Tuesday at a regular meeting.
District Chairman Alan Ward said the issue was something he had been considering presenting to the public for some time. However, for Ward, the recent shooting incident at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut is what pushed the matter to the forefront.
“In my opinion, we should consider having some weapons inside the district,” Ward said.
If the district decides to approve the measure, Ward said the guns would be secured on school property and accessible only to a select number of teachers or staff.
“Four or five teachers or staff members who could be trained and feel comfortable in case we have an emergency,” he explained.
Garden Valley is tucked in the rural mountains of Boise County, and Ward said the nearest law enforcement officers could be as much as 45 minutes away at any time.
The school does not have a school resource officer, and it relies on volunteers from the fire department and the Crouch ambulance service when emergencies happen.
This idea could cut response time down to minutes instead of nearly an hour.
The Garden Valley School District houses 230 students. With help that far away, Ward believes this could be a perfect plan for a district of its size. “Just to provide the safest environment we possibly can,” said Ward.
Tuesday, at the school board meeting, community members seemed to agree.
“I think it’s a good idea because of the distance our police officers are from the area,” said Mel Herald.
John Haworth, a teacher with Garden Valley, stood in the back of the meeting room and gave a teacher’s perspective. Haworth said he lived in Detroit, and saw violence in schools first hand and believes metal detectors don’t work in schools.
He asked the district for the chance to be able to defend students.
“There is a predator mentality, and the thing is, the only thing that is going to stop a bad guy with a gun, is frankly, a good guy with a gun,” said Haworth.
While most seemed in support of this measure, the board acknowledges there could be opposition.
“My response is to certainly listen to their reason and to try and understand it and to utilize their input, but the vote of the board that makes the decision,” said Ward.
The gun talks in Garden Valley are in the beginning stages. That means the school board still has a lot to consider, such as how much it would cost to arm staff, where the guns would be stored, and possibly seeking outside professional help to get staff trained and ready to use guns.
Ward said all those discussions will continue to happen in the next month, but they want to make a decision soon.