District will not arm teachers despite passage of H.B. 99

by Melissa Martin

June 29 school board meeting

Members of the Brecksville-Broadview Heights Board of Education said they will not ask teachers to carry firearms in school, a policy authorized by the recent passage of Ohio H.B. 99.

The bill, signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine on June 13 in response to the recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, leaves it up to individual school districts to decide whether teachers should be trained and sanctioned to carry guns in the classroom.

Board President Mark Dosen said the district will maintain its previous policy on the recommendation of administrators and teachers.

“Our teachers are absolutely not comfortable with it [carrying guns] and our parents are not comfortable with it, so for us it’s a moot point at this juncture,” said Superintendent Joelle Magyar.

Dosen said the district plans to have its legal team review all its policies related to weapons to ensure there are no loopholes. Should the team discover that changes need to be made, those will be addressed later.

The board read legislation specifying that no changes would be made for first reading June 29, with second reading and passage expected at its August meeting.

During the June meeting, Brecksville-Broadview Heights Education Association President Bonnie Monteleone said a questionnaire was recently sent to all 240 members of the association about arming district teachers.

Monteleone explained the survey was similar to a national Gallup poll fashioned for teachers following the Marjorie Stone Douglas High School shooting in Florida in 2018. She said the teachers union received approximately 170 completed responses, with 83.5% indicating opposition to arming teachers in the classroom.

One survey question asked teachers how they felt about carrying guns in school if the district provided up to 24 hours of training. Over 85% of the staff said they were somewhat opposed or strongly opposed to such a move, while 3.5% of teachers indicated they were strongly in favor of arming teachers.

“What’s unique about this is that number is much higher than the number in the national poll that was conducted immediately following a major shooting,” Monteleone said. “It’s pretty clear the vast majority of our staff do not think it is a good idea for us to do this.”

Monteleone said the BEA also asked teachers how effective arming teachers would be at reducing the number of victims should a shooting take place. Of those who responded, 81 percent indicated the move would not be effective at all, while just 4.7 percent believe it would be very effective.

When asked how safe the schools would be if teachers were armed along with their building’s school resource officer, 59.8% said they believed the buildings would be less safe; 28.4% said they believe the buildings would be about as safe as they are now; and 11.8% said they believe the schools would be safer than they are now.

Teachers were also questioned about whether they would go through training to carry a gun in the classroom. Moneleone said 88.% of the staff said they would not apply for that training at this time.

“We are very much in opposition to [H.B. 99] and do have concerns moving forward,” Monteleone said. “We are very supportive of our SROs.”

Middle school auditorium renovations

The Brecksville-Broadview Heights Middle School auditorium renovation committee has announced it has more than $128,000 for renovations from its 2022 fundraisers.

When it took on fundraising for the project in 2020, the committee said estimates indicated more than  $250,000 was needed to modernize the facility. Identified needs include electrical, sound and lighting replacement and upgrades, replacement seats reconfigured to accommodate special needs students and guests and a new stage curtain.

During the summer of 2021, $24,000 in sound and electrical upgrades were completed. The project is slated to be completed sometime in 2023, Dosen said.

Because the auditorium is used daily by middle school students, Dosen said the work cannot be completed while students are in school, which means the work is tentatively scheduled to be completed next summer.

Elementary school prepares to open

Magyar said the district is in the process of collapsing the websites used by the district’s former elementary schools and is opening a new website for the district’s new consolidated elementary school. The new website is scheduled to launch in weeks, and Magyar said parents looking for information in the interim should contact the board office.

Magyar said that as of July 1, the district’s custodial staff has been assigned to the new elementary school to assemble furniture and get the classrooms and common areas organized prior to the school’s opening in September.

The district will host the building’s official ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, Aug. 1. ∞