Despite Calls To Arm Teachers, Most Schools Opt For Other Measures

By Jessica Robinson

Beginning Wednesday , visitors at schools in one north Idaho district will be required to check in by video and be buzzed in. It’s one of many security measures parents and students are seeing across the Northwest as a result of the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. One of the most talked about changes -- arming teachers -- failed to materialize.

A new controlled entry system in the Coeur d'Alene schools requires visitors to speak to the front office over video before coming in. Photo by Jessica RobinsonThe director of technology at the Coeur d'Alene School District, Jean Bengfort, and superintendent Matt Handelman demonstrate the new entry system for reporters at Ramsey Elementary School.

Office administrator: “Hi Jean and Matt.”
Matt Handelman: “Can you see us?
Office administrator: “Yes, I can see all of you.”

Last year, Coeur d'Alene voters approved a $1.4 million school levy to pay for this and other security upgrades. Superintendent Handelman says that includes surveillance cameras, GPS tracking on school buses ...

Matt Handelman: “We are trying to put as many layers as we can ... to make our kids and our staff safer.”



Photo: A new controlled entry system in the Coeur d'Alene schools requires visitors to speak to the front office over video before coming in. Photo by Jessica Robinson

But at the urging of local law enforcement, one measure the district isn't taking up is arming staff and teachers. In fact, few districts in the Northwest have – even where the population is hardly gun-squeamish, like north Idaho. The National Rifle Association and others had recommended the step as a measure to stop armed intruders.

University of Oregon professor Jeffrey Sprague studies school safety and security.

Jeffrey Sprague: “I just think there's a societal – it's just part of the zeitgeist that people don't want schools to be like armed fortresses.”

A board member in Sandpoint, Idaho, who floated the idea of arming teachers now faces a recall election.

Last fall, the Idaho School Boards Association voted down a proposal to set up a weapons training program for educators. And in Oregon, the Eagle Point schools had planned to circulate a survey to parents asking what they think about training and arming teachers, but that has yet to happen.

On the Web:
NPR Poll: Parents Say School Security Has Increased Since Newtown Massacre
http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/12/14/250744414/parents-say-school-security-has-increased-since-newtown-massacre

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