It’s become a national debate ever since the Parkland, Fla., shooting: whether to arm our public-school teachers. In Idaho, the state allows for school districts to make that decision. Something three districts in the state, including the Garden Valley School District, have already decided to do.
“Our staff is armed and we'll take whatever measures necessary to protect the students and staff,” said Garden Valley Superintendent Greg Alexander.
The 2-by3-foot signs even hang outside every entrance to Garden Valley School. A warning to visitors that staff are legally armed.
“My thought is I'm grateful that our teachers are armed and stuff because it helps to protect us if there is something to happen, and its posted all over around the outside of the school. So, it’s more likely that we're not going to have those issues,” said sophomore Kassi Gehrig.
“We have rifles and they're in safes throughout the school,” said Alexander.
The district spent a couple years putting the policy together before it was eventually passed and put in place for the 2014-2015 school year. Alexander said with the closest law enforcement agency about 45 minutes away, there was some worry what would happen if an active shooter scenario were to ever happen.
“Before too long, if we've got a weapon in the building, we're going to have people here. If we can't provide a safe environment for their kids, people are going to try and show up and try to help. We don't need that kind of help. We need people to know that we're going to take care of what needs to be done,” said Alexander.
Alexander wouldn’t say how many of their 21 certified teachers are being trained or specify how many rifles are in the school.
“We're in that range between more than five and less than 21,” said Alexander. “If we put it all out there, they might be able to counteract what we're doing and so you kind of want to leave it a little bit vague.”
Teachers receive training four times a year from Steve Ryan, a former police officer and current law enforcement firearms instructor.
“Safe gun handling, safety with the firearms, how to deploy them in a matter that doesn't jeopardize innocent people, and of course we teach marksmanship. We also talk about practical tactics when there is an active threat,” said Ryan.
Ryan, along with the district, also work together with the Boise County Sheriff’s Office with their firearms program.
“We want to make sure that we have proper people trained to respond effectively,” said Ryan.
Training, this district that serves 250 students, hopes they never have to use.
“Have you ever had an incident where you've had to bring them out or anything,” KTVB asked?
“No and I hope I never do,” replied Alexander.
The Garden Valley School District is one of three school districts in Idaho that allow their staff to be armed. Salmon River School District in Riggins and Mountain View School District in Grangeville are the other two. The Blackfoot Charter Community Learning Center also allows concealed carry for teachers.