Leaders look at class safety

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SANDPOINT — School officials and political activists on both the state and local level are taking a closer look at school safety in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. 

Lake Pend Oreille School District board members are scheduled to take their first look at school safety measures during the regular meeting set for this Tuesday. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at Kootenai Elementary following an executive session scheduled for 5 p.m. The examination of lockdown procedures and general safety in LPOSD schools follows an extensive period of testing an analysis, according to district superintendent Shawn Woodward.

After news broke about the tragic school shooting in Connecticut, Woodward worked with school administrators to review protocols in the event of similar crises at local schools. He personally inspected many schools’ lockdown procedures, in which teachers work to make the inside of their classroom inaccessible and invisible from the moment of alarm.

School officials aren’t the only ones seeking methods to limit casualties should an armed gunman target local schools. Last month, the Bonner County Republican Central Committee unanimously passed a resolution encouraging school boards around Idaho to make a decision regarding training and arming district employees. Those employees would then use their concealed weapon in the event of a threatening situation. The resolution leaves the specifics of the training requirements and involved weapons in the hands of local school boards.

The resolution finds its legal backing from Idaho statute 18-3302 (D) (4) (f), which states under the prohibition of firearms from school property that “a person or an employee of the school or school district who is authorized to carry a firearm with the permission of the board of trustees” is exempt from the law.

Beyond the call to local school districts, the resolution also encourages Idaho Superintendent Tom Luna to “proactively inform and educate every educational institution in Idaho as to its constitutional authority” to use firearms as a security resource.

Local Republicans dropped by Boise this weekend to present the matter before fellow party members across the state at a winter convention. According to resolution author Danielle Ahrens, the measure passed a main convention vote with Luna receptive to its ideas.

The matter of school safety weighs heavy on other state officials, too. The Associate Press reports that Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter has asked Col. Jerry Russell, the top official at Idaho State Police, to work with the Department of Education in analyzing school security and making recommendations.

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