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Powell trustees to write comprehensive school safety plan and postpone gun policy

By Tessa Baker, Powell Tribune, Via Wyoming News Exchange

POWELL — The school board in Powell has decided to work on a safety and security plan for now and postpone taking up a proposal to start drafting a policy that would allow trained staff to carry concealed weapons.

“For me, it just seems like adopting a concealed carry policy is taking the district from Step A to Step Z without ever considering everything in between,” Park County School District No. 1 Board Chairman Greg Borcher said. The board, which had been scheduled to decide April 11 on whether to proceed with the concealed weapons policy, voted unanimously to pursue a comprehensive safety plan. Borcher said the plan will focus on “five pillars of school safety.”

He said it’s not a Second Amendment issue, but a school safety issue. “I think what we’ve heard most is people want to keep kids safe,” Borcher said. “We just vary on how we think kids might be safe in school.”

In a second motion, the board voted to hire an outside firm to conduct a safety and security audit of the school district within the next calendar year.

“This gives us time and the ability to examine everything in the middle and see what we should be doing, instead of just peer pressure or whatever that we have to do this now,” Borcher said.

Using recommendations and findings from the audit, the district will look at how to increase safety of students, staff and facilities, “up to and including the potential for arming staff through a responsible concealed carry policy,” according to the motion.

Trustee Don Hansen said the board’s decision leaves options open. “…It leaves it up to this board here to decide with more information, and that’s what I like, because right now, I don’t think anybody here has enough information to make a good decision,” Hansen said.

After Wyoming lawmakers cleared staff to carry concealed weapons in schools, Powell and other districts around the state have spent months talking about whether to arm staff. Trustees in Cody were scheduled to take a final vote this week on a concealed carry policy.

Following a February school shooting in Florida, stores about school safety, firearms and student-led protests dominated national headlines.

 “Since our discussion has come at a time when there’s lots of news on this issue, I was concerned that we would be reactive and that putting a concealed carry policy in at this time would be more reactive and broadly proactive,” Trustee Kimberly Condie said.

She feels Powell school leaders should look at students’ well-being more broadly, continue the safety/security measures already in place and consider “what are the real dangers facing our children, what are the most likely scenarios.”

Condie added that you cannot say a school shooting could never happen in Powell, “but what are the most likely dangers facing our children right now?” she asked. “Let’s see what we can do.”

Several school board members called it a complex issue that will take time.

“The safety of our kids is just much more than talking about guns in schools,” said Trace Paul. “It goes way beyond that particular topic, and I think we’ve got to take that into consideration

The school board directed Superintendent Jay Curtis to create a safety and security plan that includes “five pillars of safety”:

·         Building safety, access and protocol

·         Employee and student training

·         Social/emotional and mental health

·         Emergency preparedness and crisis management

·         Interagency agreements and coordination

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