School officials are making plans for the next phase of community comments after a week-long indicated strong support for allowing employees to conceal carry guns for security purposes.
More than half of the Campbell County School District teachers and staff responded to the one-question poll, which included a space for comments. A total of 322 comments were received, filling 31 pages, said Deputy Superintendent Kirby Eisenhauer, who added that he was pleased with the response.
Overall, 58.2 percent or 533 people said they favored the measure. Another 196 or 21.4 percent were opposed and 187 or 20.4 percent said they needed more information.
Of the comments received, most asked what the selection process would be for school staff and about the training requirements, Eisenhauer added.
He also sent each employee a link to each building’s poll, so he didn’t have to ask where they worked.
So he was able to divide the answers for elementary schools, rural schools, secondary schools or departments. Each group favored concealed carry armed educators.
The quick poll was the first of school district staff conducted in Campbell County, and Eisenhauer said he wanted to get an idea of staff feelings before he proceeded with the issue.
Breaking it down
At the elementary school level, 300 said they were for the measure (or 57.5 percent); 101 were against (19.3 percent) and 121 (23.2 percent) said they needed more information.
At rural schools, where 23 people responded, those in favor of the measures was significant. Seventeen people favored the idea, while only one was against it. Five said they needed more information.
Combining all secondary schools, 332 people responded and 181 or 54.5 percent, said they favored the measure. Another 87 people were against it, or 26.2 percent, and 19.3 percent or 64 people said they needed more information.
Another 63 staffers in the departments, such as nutrition or transportation, responded. There, 52 were for the measure — 83.9 percent — while eight were against it, 12.9 percent. Two said they needed more information.
“Our next step is to allow the community to give us written comments,” said Eisenhauer, who has conducted three public hearings on the idea.
Those written comments will be sought through a community-wide poll that will open Monday and continue through June.
A link to the poll will be available online at ccsd.k12.wy.us, and paper questions will be available at the Educational Services Center, 1000 W. Eighth St., or by calling 307-682-5171.
“There will be an opportunity for individuals to submit their feelings, then I feel we’ve exhausted about every opportunity we can (for public comment),” Eisenhauer said.
The community poll also will be open to students and there will be a question of respondents about whether they’re parents of school-age children, community members or students.
“We’ve talked about this following very careful, deliberate steps,” said board chairwoman Anne Ochs.
She noted that the response to the community poll will likely be discussed in the board’s July 17 meeting, which includes its annual budget hearing.
Trustees also may look at the issue during a retreat in November, she said, during “a good, solid discussion of where to go.”
She also hopes the board votes on whether to go forward on developing its own policy at a December meeting.
That vote in December would be a decision of whether to move forward on the framework of a policy, she added.
In its January meeting, depending on whether or not the board chooses to move ahead, the particulars of how staff are selected, training, followups, psychological evaluations and more will be proposed.
“If we don’t (vote to move forward) then we can look at other things we do as deterrents,” Ochs said.
She envisioned the process as that of creating an umbrella. Those particulars will be the spokes of the umbrella, she said. The first decision will be the top of the umbrella, and then the spokes will be the support.
“We will take our time and if we aren’t ready, we won’t do it,” she said.
Superintendent Alex Ayers added that if a policy is ultimately developed, it would have to be approved by the school board on a first reading, undergo two public hearings and then be brought back to the board for a second and final reading and vote.
“We will move forward if we choose to do so or work on deterrents or both,” Ochs added.
If the measure eventually passes in Campbell County, it would be the third school district in Wyoming to do so, following Evanston and Cody.