As the question of arming school staff enters the national debate, Park County District #6 School Board is pushing forward in seeing whether this is the right policy for its community.
The board will vote this month on a second reading of the CKA Personnel Authorized to Carry policy, which allows school employees to conceal carry. At the first reading, the board chair, Kelly Simone, said it would be premature and unfair to vote against the policy until the board reviewed the results of a community survey.
The board sent out a survey to 2,400 randomly selected registered voters in the county in February. A little over 1,000 surveys were returned. And the response overwhelmingly supports arming school staff.
Overall 73 percent of respondents said yes to adopting a policy and arming staff. The majority identified simply as community members. Self-identified parents and employees also mostly supported the policy.
Ray Schulte, the superintendent of the district, said the survey achieved the board's goals.
“The whole intent of the survey was to give us some idea of where the community is at,” he said. “And I think you can look at the numbers and it answers the questions that the board was asking.”
Due to costs, the board created, distributed and analyzed the survey themselves. But Schulte said the information has been shared with research statisticians from Montana State and the University of Wyoming who said the survey is valid and reliable.
The board will have two more readings before the policy can be implemented in April.