As of Tuesday, March 8, 2016
School safety, and guns on high school campuses: The topic is so emotionally and politically charged that it seems unlikely that the matter can be brought down from the rhetorical heights – whether federal to local — which such adamant passions have driven it to.
But it has to be if Mountain View School District 244 is to discuss its proposals for a firearm policy.
And let’s be clear: Right now, that discussion is not whether they should or shouldn’t have one.
The school board needs to have an extensive base of information and patron input at its disposal in order to put down the points – both good and bad – before it gets to that stage in its deliberations. And within this are some pretty hard questions to ask, such as how does the district’s liability change in having staff now assuming security as part of their duties; are district taxpayers willing to carry the financial burdens this may entail; and is a teacher ready to use deadly force against a student who is involved in an active shooter scenario?
Difficult questions, and some aspects of this issue are horrific to even speculate upon. But such dark paths need to be trod to get to a place where we’re informed, prepared and ready.
What this takes is stepping back and stepping up on all our parts. We’re not going to be winning adherents to our position by ramping up the voice volume, nor will we be helping the discussion by running coffee shop or social media debates and leaving the district out of the information loop.
First, understand the district has no draft to discuss; the board is currently reviewing a Garden Valley policy to start the dialogue; no question this will be an extensive process. The board next meets March 21, 5:30 p.m., district office in Grangeville.
So for now, get your opinions down on legal pads, work through them to focus concerns and ideas. Research areas that have such policies and bring that documented information to the table. If you have an expertise, narrow the discussion to focus on your knowledge and experience.
And engage your board members with your information. They’re elected to represent you, but they need patrons to be communicating with them. Respect these men and women: They have need of your help, patience and opinions to make the best decision possible for the district: its students, patrons and staff.