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Armed teachers discussed by TISD board
Trinity Standard -
TRINITY – A list of school safety options that includes armed teachers is being developed for consideration by the Trinity School Board in the coming months. During their meeting Monday night, the school board met with Trinity County Sheriff Woody Wallace regarding the development of a school safety program. Wallace said that he wants to work with all four Trinity County school districts to develop a uniform response plan that will guide his officers in the event of an emergency at one of their campuses. The sheriff said he, Trinity Police Chief Steve Jones and officials with the Texas Department of Public Safety are working on the response plan for the Trinity area and would be willing to come up with options that the school district could look at. "There are some schools that are going to use armed teachers," Wallace said. "I am not here to advocate for or against that option, but if you do decide to go that route, I am asking that you allow us to train them properly." He noted most small school systems feel they cannot afford to hire full-time security personnel and believe using armed teachers is more cost effective. Wallace noted if the board does decide to use armed teachers, they could arm them with actual firearms or non-lethal weapons such as a pepper gun or taser. "The problem with tasers is you have to be close to the target and that may not be want you want if you're facing an armed intruder," he said. Pepper guns, on the other hand, look similar to a flare pistol but fire a container of pepper. "They are fired just like a regular gun and are accurate for quite a distance," he said. "A trained person can hit someone in the face with the charge of pepper and not affect anyone else in the area." Several school board members expressed reluctance to arm local teachers but asked Wallace to present them with options they could review. "My main priority is to protect the students and the staff," said board member L.C. Courtney. "I'd like to see more specifics, especially what other districts are doing as well as any guidance that is available from the state." School Superintendent Dave Plymale told the board that he and the administrative staff would be updating the school district's emergency operation plan and would include both Wallace and Jones in the discussion. Wallace said he would be willing to provide whatever assistance the school district needed in developing a plan but said much of the work would have to be done in private. He noted that if they make the plan too public, someone with ill intentions could use the information or neutralize it. STAAR update During the meeting, Curriculum Director Steve Brownlee presented a report on the upcoming state mandated State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests. Brownlee noted that in January, Trinity student took practice – or benchmark – tests to determine where they stand in their preparation for the actual tests later this year. He noted that the scores on the benchmark test indicate an almost across he board improvement over the past two years. Other business During the meeting, the school board also: • Approved one-year contract extensions to school administrators. • Received a report from Technology Director Brian Furbee. Furbee noted that the district's website launched under a new format on Friday. • Received a report from Plymale regarding changes being made by the University Interscholastic League (UIL). He noted that on Monday, the UIL officially approved plans for four playoff teams from each 2A and 3A district for the 2013-2014 school year. Currently, only three teams from each district advance into the playoffs but starting next year, four will advance. In addition, starting with the 2014-2015 school year, the UIL classification system will change. Schools with six-man football teams will be classified as 1A. Schools now classified as 1A will become 2A, 2A will become 3A, 3A will become 4A, 4A will become 5A and 5A will become 6A, • Formally called a school trustee election for May 11 and named Virginia Johnson as the election judge and early voting clerk. • Voted to rent portable buildings to house the 5th grade class at the Lansberry Elementary School (LES) campus next year at a cost of $37,000. Earlier this month the board approved plans to shut down the Trinity Intermediate School next year and move the sixth grade to the Trinity Middle School and the 5th grade to LES. They also voted to house the fifth grade in temporary buildings until a new wing is built onto LES. • Voted to renew the school district's depository contract for two years with First National Bank of Trinity.