The Examiner U-46 News Feed
U-46 reviews report of IASB resolution requests
By Seth Hancock
Rural and downstate school districts will again make a plea for local control in November at the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) annual conference.
A report to members, which included 12 new resolutions, was presented the Board of Education in School District U-46 at its meeting on Monday, Oct. 7. The report also included five amendments to existing resolutions and one reaffirmation of an existing position.
Mercer County SD 404 has again submitted a resolution asking the IASB to lobby for legislation allowing local school districts the option of allowing teachers to be armed as a safety option.
Last year, the IASB’s resolution committee for the first time recommended approval of such a resolution, and it again recommends approval this year. That resolution, however, was narrowly defeated by 53 percent (203-179) of members last year.
The U-46 board’s straw poll last year had a 5-2 vote opposed with former board members Phil Costello and Jeanette Ward approving of the resolution. All current board members have been on the record opposing local control.
The U-46 administration also opposed the resolution with CEO Tony Sanders saying “we do not believe that that is a good idea” without providing any public explanation for that position.
Similar resolutions have been submitted by rural school districts over several years, but the IASB resolution committee has always opposed such measures simply stating a fear of inanimate objects, guns. The IASB has a partisan belief statement in support of general gun control stating it “believes in the vigorous support and the rigid enforcement of the laws pertaining to the sale, possession, and/or use of firearms.”
However, last year the IASB committee finally supported the measure as the submitting district, SD 404, emphasized that the resolution was about local control. In its rationale, SD 404 states: “The most misunderstood part of this topic is that this resolution is about local control, one of IASB’s top priorities.”
“Our communities and districts differ greatly,” SD 404 states. “Some communities are perfectly comfortable with having their teachers and school staff trained and armed so they can protect people in their buildings. Other communities are adamantly opposed to the idea. That is okay. The districts in our state should be allowed to determine what is best for them, rather than leaving the determination to those in Springfield who do not know or understand communities outside their own.”
The resolution states that only school staff with a valid firearm owner identification card, a concealed carry license and any additional training required by the local school board which “must include” annual active shooter training would be allowed to be armed.
The resolution states that the IASB “shall support and advocate for legislation which provides local school boards the option of developing Student Safety and Protection Plans which allow voluntary district employees, in any capacity, the ability to carry a concealed firearm on district property…. Only district employees who fulfill all requirements listed and receive Superintendent and Board approval would be eligible as an active and armed part of the Student Safety and Protection Plan.”
SD 404 notes that rural school district’s often do not have the resources to hire Student Resource Officers (SRO), unlike district’s like U-46, and are not near police or sheriff departments. It states some of their schools would have an over 20-minute response time, and “we are certain that our district is not in the worst response time situation in Illinois.”
A PoliceOne survey has shown 81 percent of police officers supporting arming teachers and data from the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) showed that 97.8 percent of mass shootings since 1950 have occurred in designated “gun free zones,” which all Illinois government schools are designated as.
John Lott, president on the CPRC, told The Examiner last year that 20 states currently allow armed teachers to “varying degrees” with some for over two decades.
“With the exception of one accidental discharge by a teacher in Utah in 2014 after school hours… there have been no shootings of any type in any of all these schools that allowed teachers to carry guns,” Lott added.
There are two more new related resolutions both of which are recommended for approval by the IASB resolution committee.
A Wheeling school district has submitted a resolution advocating for the IASB to lobby for the state to fund grants for districts to hire SROs which “may include off-duty law enforcement officers or a law enforcement officer who has retired within the previous five years,” this making the state taxpayers responsible for funding the security of local government entities.
A Peoria school district has submitted a resolution stating the IASB “shall support legislation that would allow any school district who previously established a professional police force to re-establish a police force with all the duties and responsibilities of local law enforcement agencies.”
The IASB resolution committee stated “it is believed that Peoria Public Schools is the only downstate school district” that has hired their own police force in the past. It also stated: “The fact that the submitting district has already garnered local support from elected officials was impactful to the committee.”