LEBANON — The Lebanon School Board received offers of help Thursday to train and arm teachers, stand guard at school doors and raise funds for metal detectors to improve school security.
The offers came during audience comments at Thursday's board meeting. Board members didn't take anyone up on the suggestions, but Superintendent Rob Hess said schools are coming up with security ideas to take to school and district safety committees.
The Feb. 14 shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, weighs heavily on everyone, Hess said.
Lebanon has received a facilities grant to do a long-range plan, and board members listened to an outline Thursday about how, if the district chose, it might pursue a bond request. Some safety measures might be part of a bond if the board decides to go that way, Hess said.
"It is a huge topic of concern," he said. "That stuff is constantly at the forefront of our minds, how to keep our schools safe."
Glen Hensley, who said he once had children in the district, told board members he believes merely hiring school resource officers isn't enough. He asked to poll district personnel to see who would be interested in "additional layers of armed response."
It's impossible to know whether arming teachers would have made a difference in Florida or anywhere else, Hensley added. However, he went on: "We also can't know if it would not have made any difference."
Jim Justus said as a Vietnam veteran with four letters of commendation, he'd be willing to volunteer as an armed guard at a school. He said several fellow veterans also are willing to volunteer for what schools need — "and that's a guard at every door."
Mica Smith noted school shootings happen more quickly than law enforcement can respond, so he believes the answer is armed personnel already in place. It shouldn't be required, he added, but he'd like to have volunteers.
"There's plenty of us out there willing to volunteer our time to train school members, school staff," Smith said. "The first line of defense for our children is our school staff."
Melody Antons, who described herself as both an instructional assistant and a military veteran, said staff members will do everything they can to protect kids but she doesn't agree with arming them.
Instead, she said, she advocates shrinking classroom populations so teachers get to know their students better, limiting access by creating buzz-in entrances, and posting more school resource officers. "Those are some other options we could truly consider."
Parent Theresa Peltier said she appreciates active shooter drills, but doesn't think they're enough. She volunteered to tap community resources to provide metal detectors, door locks or other security systems.
"I feel pretty confident the community would step up and support this," she said. "Please don't feel like you're on your own in this regard."