CHICAGO — School boards across Illinois have said no to allowing teachers and other employees to carry guns at schools.
The vote — 249 against and 198 for — took place Saturday at the Illinois Association of School Boards 2019 delegate assembly meeting.
School boards, including several in the Rockford area, sent representatives to vote on a variety of matters before the association, including resolutions that help shape its legislative agenda for the coming year.
The Student Safety resolution would have put the association’s support behind proposed legislation, if any were filed, that would allow teachers and other school staff to carry guns at school on a voluntary basis if their local school board approves. Most of the support for the resolution came from small rural school districts that can’t afford to hire school resource officers, as state law dictates, and face long response times when violence threatens their schools.
An increase in school shootings has prompted similar discussions across the country, and several states have adopted changes to laws that govern who can carry guns on school property. A similar measure before the state school board association was defeated last year by a vote of 203-179.
Rockford School Board President Ken Scrivano attended to represent Rockford Public Schools.
The Rockford School Board directed Scrivano to vote against the resolution that would support teachers and other school staff having guns at school. The board’s vote on the issue was 6-1. Board member Mike Connor voted in favor of supporting the resolution.
“I’m pleased with the outcome,” Scrivano said after the assembly. “This is what RPS … wanted to do. They wanted to oppose.”
About 60 to 80 people lined up to speak on the resolution before it was voted on, Scrivano said, but only about 20 spoke before a delegate called for a vote.
“I can understand and sympathize with districts that are struggling with this issue and are trying to find solutions. I don’t agree, and I don’t think our board agrees, that this is a good option,” Scrivano said. “We ought to figure out a different way to handle things.”
A related resolution, calling for the association to advocate for school safety grants for hiring school resource officers or school security personnel, was adopted.
The Rockford School Board voted unanimously to support the creation of the grants and directed Scrivano to cast that vote on Saturday, as well.
There are 852 school districts in Illinois. About 450 sent representatives to the delegate assembly, Scrivano said.
Corina Curry: 815-987-1371; firstname.lastname@example.org; @corinacurry