“I don’t want to start a heated debate with everyone in Carrollton,” Dr. Kent Edwards said. “I just want to get the board’s thoughts on where we might fall if this bill goes through.”
The legislation Edwards was concerned with was pre-filed for consideration in the Georgia General Assembly, which opens its 2013 session next week.
District 15 Rep. Paul Battles, R-Cartersville, pre-filed House Bill 35 on Jan. 7, presumably as a reaction to the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., in mid-December.
The bill, if passed, would give Georgia school boards the right to designate one or more administrators in each school to possess and carry firearms within a school safety zone or school building, at a school function or on school property.
If the bill is passed, and if the boards choose to implement the law, administrators would be required to obtain a weapons carry license and attend the basic training course for peace officers administered by a state council. The costs for all the annual training for such administrators would fall to the local school boards.
“We should stress that no one is requiring the administrators to have guns,” Edwards said. “Even if the bill goes through, it gives the board the right to make that decision.”
The legislation found some opposition in several members on the board, with member Dr. Michael Rothschild saying the board should be careful about “overreacting.”
“I just think we need to be reasonable about this,” Rothschild said. “You can’t ever put enough safety measures in place to prevent everything from happening.”
Rothschild said he is “not in favor” of administrators carrying guns, with members Dr. Jason Mount, David Godwin and Greg Dothard agreeing.
The school system currently has one school resource officer, and has since around 1997. Edwards said he is looking into the viability of adding a second. If a second is added, one would presumably cover the elementary and middle schools, with the other covering the junior high and high schools.
“I’ve been asked many questions about how safe we are and what we would do in a situation like that,” Edwards said. “And any time a tragedy like this happens, it’s a time to revisit our protocol and procedures.”