The Columbia Board of Education has voted against a measure that would have allowed two school officials to carry guns on campus. Board members voted 4 to 3 to reject the idea at a regular board meeting last night.
Tom Rose is a parent and school board member. He says he voted against the measure because a better way to address problems is to create educational, societal, and mental health supports. “I saw this as a vote to add more firepower to the schools,” Rose said. “I understand people’s thinking in how it could give a sense of protection and all that, but I just personally didn’t see that I was in favor of that.”
Rose says he would like to see an increase in SRO’S, or school resource officers, because he says the law enforcement officers develop positive relationships with the students and increase an overall level of security.
In addition to the vote on the gun policy, board members approved an application allowing Columbia’s Douglass High School to be considered for a large grant that could bring the school more $400,000 per year.
Jolene Yoakum is the Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Schools in the Columbia district. She presented the Priority Schools Grant Application to board members last night. She says the grant will focus on job skills that could open up more opportunities to Douglass students. “The grant is going to allow us to have a focus on technology, skills that students need, some interns, some jobs skills, so that in addition to our kids being successful with a high school diploma, also making sure they’re career ready,” Yoakum said.
If approved, the funds will go towards teacher, student, and office staff support. Yoakum says she’s anticipating a full approval for the grant and should know definitively on July 1st. The next Policy Committee meeting is scheduled for June 24th.