PEYTON – Teachers and staff in the Peyton School District are one step closer to becoming armed. This marks the second local school district in southern Colorado to vote in favor of arming teachers following the Hanover School District in 2016.
The school board approved the measure following feedback from parents. It’s part of a four pronged approach to school safety.
Jim Eckelberry is on-board with making Peyton schools a safer space for students and staff.
He’s part of the Peyton school board, which recently voted to approve a four-pronged approach to improve security.
While arming teachers is one step, it’s just a piece of the puzzle.
“This is about local control,” Eckelberry explained. “This is about community members which is our students, which is our families, our students, our parents outside or staff.”
Another step, which is already happening, is offering students more time with counselors as part of their curriculum.
“So pieces are happening,” Eckelberry said. “The want is there – the want is for us to do this, we need to do these things.”
The others two steps: offering medical training to all staff and modifying school buildings to include technology which can protect kids and teachers.
“Things like additional fencing, looking at radio systems, looking at communications systems,” Eckelberry listed.
Following a town hall meeting back in August, more than 70 percent of parents voted to arm teachers after learning the other strategies involved.
“They like the different steps that we’re taking,” said Tim Kistler, Peyton School District’s Superintendent. “Because it’s a big-picture look not just a gun issue.”
Though, it’s not exactly what he would’ve wanted for the district.
“We did not want this for the school district because why should you have to worry about gunmen?” he asked. “Why are we needing to worry about the threat against students or staff?”
But Kistler supports it anyway, because he says it’s important to be prepared.
“It’s just a bad situation,” he explained. “A bad time but we have to react to the time in which we are now in.”
The end goal: improve the district for the better.
“[The goal is to] have us be a district or a school that people want to be at,” Eckelberry remarked.
The Peyton School District says each different step will be running on is own timeline and approval process. Right now, it’s too early for them to give an ETA on any of these, since a lot of it depends on how much state money and grants they receive. But they hope to incorporate some, if not all of these, into next year’s school budget.