SAN ANTONIO – Concerns over whether teachers should be carrying guns in schools have been an ongoing debate within the East Central Independent School District. At a school board meeting last month, board members delayed voting on a guardian-like program that would arm teachers.
The decision was made after the board heard pleas from parents at that meeting asking for more time to understand what the program would entail.
The district released a survey for 72 hours on its website Monday to get the community’s thoughts on the program.
Some parents and teachers, such as Daryl Anderson, a fine arts teacher at Tradition Elementary, said they feel that 72 hours is not enough time and that the one-question survey is not a big enough platform to express their concerns.
“It gave a little space for you to leave your comment, and that’s all there was to the survey,” Anderson said. “I feel like, as a teacher, there should be more opportunities for us to share concerns.”
Anderson said he doesn’t feel that adding a program that would arm teachers and staff members is a right fit for the district.
Keith Keilman, a parent and gun owner, agrees with Anderson. Both Keilman and Anderson said they wish there was more of an open conversation between the district and the community and more time.
“It just feels like they are trying to push this through for whatever reasons,” Keilman said. “I’m just not sure why they feel like they need this in the district so quickly.”
Superintendent Roland Toscano said the district’s next step is to take the responses from the survey and address them at a meeting on Jan. 7 at the district’s performing arts center.
“We’ll have a moderator, Robert Rivard, use that feedback to generate questions to a panel of experts in the area of school safety,” Toscano said.
Whether or not that meeting will be a town hall-style meeting, at which the panel will take concerns or questions from the public, is unclear.
Toscano said the safety of the 10,000 students in the district is a top priority. He said the district will be watching the traffic on the survey’s website and will decide, after the 72 hours are up, if it needs to extend that time for the community.