Last week, a school board in southern Idaho voted in favor of a new policy allowing faculty and staff to carry firearms. Because Mountain View School District has schools in Kooskia, Grangeville and Elk City and sits in a rural area, board members decided in favor of the policy. In their eyes, teachers and staff would be the first line of defense in the case of an emergency, something that’s all too common in rural areas of the nation.
The decision was also impacted by the district’s budget which keeps them from being able to afford to have resource officers, sworn law enforcement officers who remain on the school’s premises.
“The pros and cons have been discussed and discussed and discussed,” Mountain View School District Superintendent Kent Stokes said. “I think we have a good policy.”
Mountain View’s policy provides for guns in lockboxes, but also allows approved employees to carry a concealed firearm.
The decision was based on a 4-1 vote, with board member Jeremy Harris casting a no vote.
“Kids typically can get their hands on anything,” Harris said. “And as much as teachers are responsible, a gun that ends up in a desk, briefcase or purse … that gun would be safer in a lockbox.”
According to Harris, teachers were split on policy.
“One thing we did as a board is we utilized the union to survey administrators and teachers to get their feelings on the gun policy,” Harris said. “Approximately half were for and half were against, so obviously that was difficult – that no matter what outcome there was it was nearly impossible to please everyone.”
In order to carry on a school’s campus, faculty and staff are required to receive 4o-48 hours of training through the Idaho County Sheriff’s Department, following a curriculum from the Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training.
Sheriff Doug Giddings also made a suggestion regarding the policy:
“I would guess it would be people who carry guns and use guns all the time. This isn’t an experiment where you take new people and put them with a gun on campus.”
Teachers and faculty are required to apply and be approved for Idaho’s enhanced concealed carry permit. Staff members would also undergo mental and physical evaluations by the school board to determine their ability to help, should the need arise.