Berthoud Weekly Surveyor | Covering all the angles in the Garden Spot

TSD approves armed personnel in district schools

By: Dan Karpiel | The Surveyor | September 15, 2022 | Education

During the regular meeting of the Thompson School District Board of Education last Wednesday, the board voted 4-2 to allow for armed school security officer positions, which differ from the currently in place Student Resource Officers (SROs) who are uniformed members of law enforcement present in district schools, to be placed in TSD schools.

TSD Chief Operations Officer, Todd Piccone, presented the board with the resolution for adding the School Security Officers (SSOs) positions. According to the resolution, “The Superintendent is authorized to designate the appropriately qualified, trained and licensed employees who shall serve as School Security Officers and to establish any policies and protocols that are required from time to time to carry out the purpose of this resolution.”

The report outlined the official duties and functions of the position including that the SSO in each building will be permitted to carry a concealed handgun on their person at all times and authorized in accordance with existing law to use deadly force against threats. The SSO in each building will be required to undergo, or prove they have already undergone, at least 30 hours of training both in classroom instruction and live-fire exercises and, each year, be recertified with an additional 16 hours of training. The training will be carried out by authorized law enforcement officers and others specially trained in handgun safety and operation. The district clarified that those who will be permitted to serve as the SSOs will be drawn from existing security personnel, not from members of the schools’ instructional faculties.

Board members Amy Doran and Dawn Kirk voted against the measure, which passed 4-2, with Berthoud board representative Stu Boyd absent from the meeting. The decision was initially undertaken in response to high-profile school shootings that have occurred around the country in recent years.

As part of the district’s enhanced safety and security measures, on which the Surveyor reported on in the Sept. 1 issue, the TSD has expanded the SRO program to include the elementary schools (SROs are currently in place in all district middle and high schools) but budgetary constraints but within the district, the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office and Loveland Police Department, are unable to provide a SRO to each elementary school; the elementary SROs are responsible for providing blanket security across all district elementary schools.

Prior to taking up official business, the board heard public comment during which some district parents approached the board questioning what they viewed as inappropriate reading materials found in school libraries. One parent read a passage from one of the books which described, in graphic detail, the sexual assault of a young child.

Additionally, Thompson Education Association president Andrew Crisman addressed the board asking for funds to be allocated as part of the next bond request to add air conditioning to all district schools, citing temperatures in some classroom’s approached 90 degrees during last week’s heat wave, which prompted the district to employ earlier than scheduled release times.

The next meeting of the TSD School Board will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 21.

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