“The best suggestion I’ve heard is what South Carolina is doing,” said a member of the Council of independent Business Owners (CIBO) during the club’s first meeting of 2013. “Let the teachers have guns in the schools.”
CIBO members showed their concerns about recent school shootings in Connecticut by asking Buncombe County Schools (BCS) Superintendent Tony Baldwin about School Resource Officers, outside security and how increased security will affect the learning environment. Baldwin heard suggestions and answered questions after speaking to the CIBO membership about BCS safety policies.
The CIBO member who suggested guns in the hands of teachers, pointed out that the media doesn’t publicize events that don’t happen because someone else stopped the shooter with a weapon.
“I support armed security by adding SRO’s [School Resource Officers] in the schools,” said BCS Board of Education member Dusty Pless who introduced Baldwin. Pless said they had even spoken with Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan about deputies completing their paperwork in the schools buildings in order to add their presence.
Baldwin said currently only Buncombe County high schools had school resource officers and it would cost $1.5 million to put a resource officer in every school. He said if the government provided the funding, he would not turn down having 26 additional human beings in the schools.
“We can’t put a price on what SRO’s do in the schools,” said Baldwin as he talked about the relationships the officers build with the students.
“How does this affect the learning environment for our kids?” asked one CIBO member. “To protect them you almost have to put them in a penitentiary.”
Baldwin spoke about reactions of the BCS staff and the actions they took immediately following the horrific event in Connecticut. He said BCS had grief recovery counselors in the schools Monday morning following the Friday tragedy and explained the safety procedures the schools follow.
“I understand the emotional aspect of school shootings,” said Baldwin who reminded those listening that school shootings were still very rare. He added that there were many other areas of disaster schools prepare for such as bomb threats, snow storms or even a small kitchen fire.
“We’ve had many perimeter lock downs at Estes [William W Estes Elementary school] because of a bear,” said Baldwin who added it was important to take the emotion out of the conversation. “We have to balance the environment we create for learning with the safety of the students.”
In addition to Baldwin addressing the school safety issue, Representatives Tim Moffitt and Nathan Ramsey gave an update on the North Carolina House of Representatives. The two agreed that much of the state’s organization needed to be modernized. Ramsey said the current North Carolina government is based on a model from the 1930’s.
The only question CIBO members had for the representatives was where the new governor stood on the health care reform issue. Both replied they had no knowledge and Ramsey suggested CIBO members attend Pat McCrory’s upcoming visit to Asheville.