The Greenwood School Board heard the first reading on February 13 of a proposed new weapons policy for teachers and other licensed school employees.
Assistant Superintendent Vicki Hall said the policy would allow certified police officers to possess firearms on campus.
The proposed policy, a copyrighted 2013 Arkansas School Boards Association policy, prohibits any school employee, including those with concealed carry permits, from possessing a firearm on any school campus or in or upon any school bus or district-designated bus stop.
Exceptions to the firearms prohibition would be employees participating in a school-approved educational course or program involving the use of firearms, such as ROTC programs, hunting safety or military education or before- or after-school hunting or rifle clubs. In those cases, the firearms must be securely stored in the employees’ on-campus personal residence and/or immediately adjacent parking area.
Hall said the policy would allow employees to carry a pocketknife with blades of less than 3 inches each, and it would allow employees to carry for self-defense an up to 150 cc/5 oz. container of tear gas or mace. However, she said, the items cannot be used on students, parents or other school staff.
The proposed policy states that employees must safeguard the items to ensure a student could not possess them. And it states that any employee possessing weapons or self-defense devices that do not comply with the policy limits, or any failure to safeguard such items or the use of such items against students, parents or other staff may result in disciplinary action and possible termination.
In other business, the board approved 6-0 an Internet and WAN service contract with Cox Metro E-Network.
Superintendent John Ciesla said the upgrade provides five times the district’s current capacity and allows the district to ready itself for the state-mandated online PARCC testing and evaluation coming this spring.
PARCC, the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, is a 22-state consortium working together to develop next-generation assessments in English and math for students in kindergarten through 12th grades, according to the Arkansas Department of Education. Arkansas is a governing state in the consortium.
Based on the Common Core State Standards, the PARCC initiative is intended not just to allow students to know if they are on track for their college and career goals, but also to keep teachers informed of each student’s progress to better guide instruction. It is intended, too, to provide parents with timely information about their children’s progress and to provide valid apples-to-apples results for comparison among the participating states, according to the Arkansas Department of Education.
Ciesla said the district now has more than 3,500 devices in use on its campuses. The upgrade brings the district’s cost from about $5,000 a month to about $13,000 a month, before the E-rate discounted telecommunications service program, he said.
The federal E-rate program provides discounts of up to 90 percent to eligible schools and libraries.