Lake County School Board members turned a cold shoulder to the idea of arming administrators and teachers, as a way of protecting Lake County students from a repeat of Sandy Hook massacre, or a potential terror attack.
The proposal came from brand new school board member Bill Mathias. He admitted the plan needed a full vetting, and that it was just a suggestion. He would be happy with whatever the board decided, he told us. Lake County Council chambers were packed with residents who wanted to sound off on the proposal. One even brought a joke.
"First of all, I don't think we should arm administrators during budget season, or board members."
While that brought a laugh, other speakers took more than an hour to speak, either for or against, the plan.
"An armed educator in the schools that can respond to an immediate threat is what's needed," said proponent David Scmidtbauer.
Andy Dubois echoed statements made week's earlier by NRA president Wayne LaPierre. "In my opinion, the only effective way to protect anyone from a bad guy with a gun is by a good guy with guns."
Marie Dubois said it wasn't economically feasible to place law enforcement in every school. "It's a fact that we cannot afford financially to put police officers in the numbers we would need in every school. I support Bill Mathias' proposal."
But not everyone is in favor of the proposal.
"I think to add something like this on their plate would be more of a burden than a help," said Selina Hobbs.
"For those of us that have worked in schools and know how hectic it can be, and what can happen, there is no way I would arm teachers and staff with a gun in school," said Theo Bob. "Simply because, as much as we like to believe we can handle those situations, with my background, I'm not even sure I could handle that situation. In my opinion that's for trained police officers."
Board members had their chance to speak, and not one said they were in favor of the plan put forward by Mathias.
Vice Chair Debbie Stivender spoke in opposition, saying, "I have a problem with guns on there unless they are actual police officers who are trained to do that, and at this point there were some items. I mean if we had a volunteer force that could come in and do it, that's one thing, but our money needs to be spent on educating our students and not additional firearms in the schools."
Board Chair Kyleen Fisher says the school system will get together with the Sheriff's Office to see how they can increase security. "I have talked with school bus drivers. I've talked with others in the system, our maintenance department. They would really like to step forward and help the school system. They'd like to be those active observers. They would like to be on campuses, active and vigilant in securing them. This is the type of non-armed security that I would like to see."
The District says they plan to tell the public as little as possible about security upgrades in their schools.