All options should be on table

Written by Observer editorial January 18, 2013 08:28 am

Throughout Oregon, schools are assessing safety and security procedures in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., tragedy in mid-December.

Could a school shooting happen here? Yes. Mental health issues do not skip states, or just reside in urban areas. Will it happen here? In all likelihood, no.

But safety is priority No. 1. Whatever you feel about guns in school, and the topic raises heated opinions, it’s good that all options are on the table. La Grande Police Chief Brian Harvey recently spoke to the La Grande School Board and law enforcement officials met with Union County school representatives to discuss options the schools could pursue to continue improving security. 

The option Harvey considers best would be to have armed police officers at each school serving as resource officers, which, he said, would be a tremendous deterrent to shooters.

The cost, though, is prohibitive. The annual cost to the La Grande district, for example, would be at least $360,000 a year, only possible by cutting teaching positions. Staffs are already depleted. No layoffs should be contemplated to meet security budgets.

The second option calls for the schools to adopt a policy allowing faculty and staff, with concealed weapon permits, to bring firearms into schools. 

The schools don’t need to become armed fortresses. But they do need to continually improve procedures that provide quick intervention and counseling to stop problems before they happen.

Whatever your position on firearms in schools, it’s good to have all ideas on the table before pursuing further security measures. Everyone wants our schools to be as safe as possible. Local schools need to improve security and provide a safe learning and teaching environment.