GREEN FOREST, Ark. April 3 2018– The shooting in Parkland, Florida left administrators in schools nationwide raising the question:
“What are we doing to make sure that nothing happens here?”
Green Forest School District in Arkansas is answering that, with plans to arm 16 school teachers in the upcoming school year.
The teachers would be volunteers who go through 60 hours of training to get an armed security guard license through state police.
Superintendent Matt Summers said, “Our school district is going to go above and beyond what the Arkansas state police requires, and that is we will do a psychological evaluation and drug testing.”
Colin Stimson, a former Green Forest student, said, “Stupid people get degrees. Stupid people can still clear 60 hours of training. I don’t think necessarily someone who is not emotionally fit will be completely vetted through that process.”
Some residents are not convinced teachers with guns are the solution.
“When we have something that’s causing the problem, such as weapons,” Stimson said, “Then why are we trying to solve the problem by fueling it with more of what’s causing the problem?”
Others say it could save lives.
Mike Clark, a Green Forest resident, said, “It gives reaction time. If a shooter enters the school, they’re armed, they’re trained, they can take them out.”
The school district would pay for the training for the teachers.
The teacher’s gun would have to be on their person and concealed, or in a safe, and kids would not be informed which teachers are armed.
“There’s going to be some that are adamantly for it or adamantly against it. If the program is run correctly, no one will know.”
The superintendent says the district has been making efforts for years to keep their kids safe, with special windows and locks in the classrooms, and this is just another way.
Summers said, “If something like that did happen here how do you live with that? How do I process that? That I didn’t do everything I possibly could to protect our staff and our students?”
Monday night the school district will inform teachers about the plan.
Green Forest is also adding two more school resource officers next school year, for a total of four. That means one would be in each building.