Nearly two months after the topic was broached, the Gainesville City Board of Education will not move forward on having long-range rifles in middle and high schools at the work session tonight.
Initially brought up earlier in the year, the topic was readdressed and nearly voted on during the board’s Sept. 3 work session. Instead, members chose not to take action as the school governance councils had not looked at the measure.
The proposal is to allow long-range rifles — Colt 6920 M4 carbines — on school property, locked in a safe accessible only to the school resource officer.
The suggested schools were Gainesville Middle, Gainesville High and Wood’s Mill Academy.
Following the Sept. 3 work session, school governance councils met with the Gainesville Police Department in one joint meeting Sept. 30. Only around 15 people, most of them teachers, attended.
“The (school) governance councils are meeting, and they’re sending a written statement (of) their recommendation to the (school board),” said Superintendent Merrianne Dyer about what is currently taking place.
The Gainesville Police Department had initially gone to the schools with the idea of allowing rifles in the middle and high schools following the December 2012 elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., which left 26 students and staff members dead.
An attempted school shooting at DeKalb’s McNair Discovery Learning Academy in August brought the topic back up for discussion.
While the vote for placing rifles in schools is still on hold, Dyer said there are other safety initiatives being considered. One option includes putting more safety buttons on school campuses, where students could push a button at various points on campus to alert authorities about an unsafe situation.
“(We’re looking) particularly at Gainesville High School, which has 114 exterior doors,” Dyer said. “The other thing that we’re exploring ... is the use of the scan cards for students, perhaps, at (the high school.)”
The cards would serve as identification badges. The students would scan them prior to being admitted in a door.
“We’re not saying we’re going to do it, but we’re studying it,” Dyer said, adding the scan cards would be a large expense. “We’re studying several (safety measures.)”
As for putting rifles in schools, Dyer said she thinks the issue will be addressed during planning for the next budget year, or possibly after the holidays.
“But when we looked at that, then looked at all the other recommendations of the police department and our safety committee, we’re kind of studying all of (the safety recommendations,)” she said. “What would be the best thing to do first?"