Idaho School District to Add Armed Guards for Safety
An Idaho school district plans to have armed guards at each of their 11 schools, in addition to the two School Resource Officers already assigned. Lakeland School District will start with their first hiring for Athol Elementary this summer. But it’s not just because Idaho is more Conservative – it’s because it takes too long for police to get to the schools.
Athol Elementary is over 21 miles from the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Driving normal speed, it would take about 36 minutes to get there. Driving faster, with traffic issues, it can take as long as 22 minutes…which is exactly how long it took police to arrive last time the school had to call 911. And that’s with 3 different ways to get there, two of which are back roads. If a stroke of luck had the deputy sitting two seconds from the playground, that would be different. But distances are great, and the district is taking measures to safeguard the kids.
Two townhall meetings revealed that citizens told the school district that “if we have to hire armed guards, we’ll hire armed guards.” While there were dissenters, the vast majority were happy with the arrangement. They are also hoping that the first security guard will be able to assist with two other schools that in outlying areas (which is still too far away).
Brian Walker at the Coeur d’Alene Press reported,
“The (existing) school-resource officers will not go away,” Sexton said. “They build positive relationships with the students.”
Sexton said SROs will also work at evening events, read to students and educate kids on topics such as self-defense and cyber-bullying. Armed guards, meanwhile, will monitor the perimeter of the schools, main entrances and playgrounds at recess throughout the school day.
The school district has $42,000 for the first armed guard position from a supplemental levy that was approved by voters last year. The district will have to add funding to make it a position with benefits, Sexton said. It hasn’t been determined if the district will ask patrons for funding for one or two additional armed guards in next year’s two-year supplemental levy.
The district did not go with armed teachers because they were concerned with taking them away from their primary task. They will be removing the “gun free zone” signs this summer.
“We want people to know that, should someone be a serious threat on the grounds, they’ll be confronted with someone who has lethal force.” Lisa Sexton, Assistant Superintendant, Lakeland School District.