The Twin Falls School District announced they would be searching to hiring 15 unarmed guards to protect schools. Here is what we found out.

Q: Are they going to be privately hired and the school will be hiring a company to supply the guards? I guess just unsure about where the guards will be found.

TFSD: The TFSD is working to hire 15 Security Paraprofessionals. We will be utilizing our normal hiring process to hire community members to serve these roles. Meaning, they will be employed directly by the school district, not some outside company. We are hoping we might be able to find some retired law enforcement personnel.

Q: Is the funding going to be coming out of the normal budget or will the school be asking for a levy?

TFSD: We will be utilizing a few different funding sources, none of which, for this year at least, include asking the community for a levy. We receive funding under a program called, "safe and drug free schools," from the state that will be utilized as well as a portion from the general fund that would otherwise be used for supplies. We are also converting one playground aid position from each elementary school to help fund these new positions. The security paraprofessionals will assist with monitoring recess times so there won't be less coverage during recess. At this point, we have established funding for this school year but are hoping that the state will provide added support specifically for school security. In the future funding could come from a supplemental levy but it is too early to say what we will do with these positions beyond this school year.

Q: What would you say to people who argue that having unarmed guards is a waste of money?

TFSD: We have seen this comment come up from a few community members and I think there is a misconception about how we as a district are tackling school security. These new positions are just one step towards safer schools that we can implement now to be proactive. We are still exploring all options to increase school security and by no means do we think this one change is going to solve all our security needs. We don't expect the new employees to be the only solution to stopping or preventing an active shooter, although they will be trained in crisis situation management by our local police department. The purpose of the new employees is to work closely with our resource officers (SROs) to identify security risks, and intervene when necessary. We expect them to patrol the campus and ensure students get from their classroom to their intended destinations, check exterior doors to make sure buildings are secure, provide backup for our school sectaries as they control access to our buildings, ensure all visitors are properly credentialed, address any security issue they identify, and, as I mentioned before, provide coverage during recess and lunch times. They will be trained in our emergency protocols and will take part in the emergency response procedures. They will also help us ensure that the emergency response procedures are followed in all of our buildings. We are modeling these positions after what other schools have done with similar unarmed personnel to assist with security.

Q: Any plans to have armed guards in the future?

TFSD: At this point we are still exploring all options. Our Director of Operations, Ryan Bowman, has compiled a task force with local law enforcement and education stakeholders to evaluate all measures that could be implemented to improve security, including armed personnel. Some of the challenges that we have identified at this point are the need for rigorous training (especially shoot/don’t shoot training) for, and the cost associated with employees who would potentially be armed. That being said, it is not out of the question, we just are not at that point yet. In addition, we do have six School Resource Offices in the schools who are armed. They are stationed at our secondary schools but often make visits to our elementary schools.

Do you think this will be effective?