by Sheldon Ocker
June 21 school board work session
Board member Mike Kahoe reported to the Revere School Board the implications of Ohio House Bill 99, which makes it easier to arm teachers and other school employees.
Governor Mike DeWine signed off on the bill in mid-June. So what has changed? As Kahoe explained, those authorized to carry guns in a school must undergo 24 hours of training. Previously, to qualify to be armed in a school building, a person needed 700 hours of training.
According to Kahoe, teachers and staff must also requalify yearly by taking an additional eight hours of training. The Ohio School Safety Center will provide instruction.
What did not change? Each district will determine whether to arm its teachers and staff. Those who carry firearms in a school building must receive written authorization from their local school board.
“It is not a mandate to arm teachers, it’s a complete option for local districts,’’ Kahoe said. “I think it was done with the mindset that rural districts have worse police response times than here and a lot of urban and suburban areas.
‘’I can tell you, and it might calm some nerves, that in my conversations with board members, I have no expectation that Revere is going to exercise the option to allow teachers to carry. But I’m happy to have the conversation. I think we should.’’
Superintendent Michael Tefs expanded on Kahoe’s remarks.
“We are fortunate to be right in the middle of two incredibly competent and very professional police forces [Bath and Richfield],’’ he said. “So if we determine we need more types of armed security, I think we have options.’’
Tefs mentioned that some communities might not have their own police departments and must rely on county sheriff deputies who can be miles away.
“I don’t think it’s right for here,’’ he said of arming Revere teachers.
Board President Keith Malick said that the Revere Foundation assists in district safety protocols.
“One of their goals is to work on the safety initiatives in our schools,’’ he said.
Revere Schools Resource Officer Scott Dressler and an assisting officer provide a constant presence in all four school buildings.
“I can’t begin to tell you how many emails I have received that start off with the calm and relaxation families feel when they drive up to drop their child off and they see Scott out front or the officer we have in Bath,’’ the superintendent said. “They appreciate that.’’
A standing committee meets quarterly to keep the district abreast of new tools and strategic planning concerning safety and security.
“We’re very fortunate to have the chief of police in both Bath and Richfield and the second in charge at both Bath and Richfield and the third in charge at Bath and Richfield and the fire chief of Bath and Richfield,’’ said Tefs, referring to the makeup of the committee. “They’re not just here because they are told to be here. They want to be at the table. They’re community members…They are incredibly committed.’’
The superintendent said it would be helpful if a school board member and a health counselor be part of the committee.
School safety and security was the topic to be discussed in executive session after the work session. ∞