JEFFERSON COUNTY, MO – As the national conversation on what school safety should look like continues, a school district in Jefferson County is taking action on their own.
A couple of big signs have been posted around campus over the last few days that basically says some teachers and staff are armed and will do whatever is necessary to protect their students. This program has actually been going on for more than two years now, but because of the new signs more people are aware of it and they share their thoughts on the program.
Carrying in the classroom, it's how some faculty at Sunrise R-9 School District in rural DeSoto plan to protect their students.
“I think it’s wonderful. We live so far out and to have our kids protected at all times is great. It takes 20 minutes for the sheriff to make it to our schools,” says mom Brandi Richards.
"It makes me feel really safe that they’re going to go above and beyond to protect them,” says mom Laura Broker.
“Anything we can do to protect our kids and today’s world you just never know,” says grandmother Cindy Heimos.
“So far it’s been positive. Just like anything else though you have a few folks who are not a hundred percent in favor of it,” says Superintendent Armand Spurgin.
He says it’s been about 2 1/2 years since someone tried to enter their building and it took 17 minutes for help to arrive since they're out in a rural part of Jefferson County.
He says that's when the district decided to partner with the Shield Solutions program.
He explains, “You do an initial 40-hour training. You spend a full week down there training on basic weapons. You also go through a psychological evaluation and extensive medical training in case there is a scenario where you have to respond and help with anything medical. Then after that, you basically go through three days per year of continued education. So, eight hours per day. So it’s a total of 24 per year and every time you go you have to qualify as a 90% marksman which is pretty similar to what SWAT teams have to qualify as.”
While he won’t say how many employees are armed, he says they have about 50 staff members and 250 students in the district who all share one building. Spurgin adds that it's on a volunteer basis, but those teachers and faculty must carry on their person the entire day.
"We’ve had some individuals say if you ever have an opening we would participate but we’ve had some that say if you ever have an opening please don’t consider us and I can respect that I mean they have to be comfortable with what they’re doing and believe in it,” says Spurgin.
He says the district looked into hiring a full-time officer for the campus which would cost roughly $40,000 a year or they could institute this program for about $20,000 a year and have multiple staff members car