The Illinois Association of School Boards’ Resolution Committee is recommending passage of a school safety resolution backing voluntary armed school staff. The measure will be voted on at the Joint Annual Conference to be held November 22nd through 24th in Chicago. IASB represents 98% of the school districts in the state of Illinois.
BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Illinois Association of School Boards shall support and advocate for legislation which provides local school boards the option of developing Student Safety and Protection Plans which allow voluntary district employees, in any capacity, the ability to carry a concealed firearm on district property, provided the employee has a valid Illinois FOID card, holds a certified Illinois Concealed Carry License, has completed all additional trainings and certifications set forth by the respective school board, one of which MUST include yearly certified Active Shooter Training. Only district employees who fulfill all requirements listed and receive Superintendent and Board approval would be eligible as an active and armed part of the Student Safety and Protection Plan.
The resolution was submitted by Mercer County School District 404. As part of their rationale for passage of this resolution, they pointed out that their district has 5 school building in three different towns spread out over 378 square miles. They go on to add:
The districts in our state should be allowed to determine what is best for them, rather than leaving the determination to those in Springfield who do not know or understand communities outside their own.
The Resolutions Committee agreed and noted that rural school districts do not have “the fast response times of emergency responders in urban and suburban areas.” They went on to point out the lag times can be substantial due to both geography and resources. This plus the fact that the decision on armed school staff would be left to local discretion were the primary reasons that they urged passage.
The Daily Northwestern reported that the IASB delegate for the Evanston/Skokie School District 65, Joseph Halipern, opposes firearms in schools but did recognize it is as a concern for rural school districts.
“The district and Resolution Committee’s rationale for putting (the resolution) in speaks to the diversity of school districts in Illinois, and it makes a lot of sense,” Hailpern said. “Districts in rural communities have a very different lived experience regarding access to police, proximity to police and response times.”
A similar resolution was voted down last year by the IASB delegates.
The issue really comes down to the fact that rural school districts are different that large urban and suburban school districts. They generally have a smaller tax base, less resources, have slower emergency response times, and are less anti-gun. They are miles – not mere blocks – away from police or sheriff’s departments.
The sad thing is that even if the IASB passes this Student Safety resolution at their Joint Annual Conference it won’t get through the Illinois General Assembly. Even if that unlikely event were to happen, Gov. J. B. Pritzker (D-IL), would veto the bill and school safety be damned if it means armed school staff.