SPRINGFIELD, Ore. (KMTR) -- As dialogue heats up about the idea of teachers carrying guns to protect their school classrooms, Springfield Public Schools sounds off about how it currently operates.
In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, many people have been posing the question: should teachers have guns in the classroom?
In the last week, at least one Oregon legislator has supported the idea. Oregon House Representative Dennis Richardson, a Republican from Central Point, recently advocated teachers having access to guns in the classroom.
According to the Medford Mail Tribune, Representative Richardson contacted three school district superintendents in his area, saying that their ban on weapons in schools should be overturned.
The story generated hundreds of responses on KMTR NewsSource 16's Facebook page with dozens of people speaking out in favor of teachers carrying guns in the classroom.
With so many people talking about the idea of weapons on school grounds, Springfield Public Schools is stepping up to share its current policy.
The district is among many in Oregon that ban all weapons for students, staff, faculty and administrators on campus. Springfield Schools' policy was created by the Springfield School Board, a publicly-elected body.
"If we had a practice of . . . teachers [who] were armed, how it would play out? What would the parameters be? There are a lot of things to work through,” says Matt Coleman, Assistant Superintendent of Springfield Public Schools.
To be clear, Springfield Public Schools says it is not advocating for or against carrying weapons on school grounds.
Weapons, including guns, are not allowed on Springfield Schools' campuses; the district says safety remains a top priority. That's why it continues to staff two full-time School Resource Officers (SROs). The officers are armed and trained Springfield Police officers.
The district says the SROs are there for the safety element, but most importantly for crime prevention. Coleman says much of the district's success depends not only on the safety precautions it takes, but also the knowledge it gets about its student bodies from parents, teachers, students and the public.
"That, I think, needs to be as much of a focus as anything else in . . . a national debate right now is: how do we work collectively as communities, as cities, as towns to ensure our safety - whether you're going to the mall or you're going to school,” says Matt Coleman, Assistant Superintendent of Springfield Public Schools.
Coleman points to a successful resolution of a recent weapons scare near A3: Academy of Arts and Academics school in downtown Springfield last week. A student walking to the school was carrying a fake prop gun for a school project. On the commute, the student was spotted by someone who called Springfield Police. Immediately, several schools went into lockdown and police spoke to the student carrying the prop. Officers were able to confirm that everything was safe and the student had no ill intention. Coleman says the only way anyone knew what was going on was because a citizen was alert.
Springfield's School Resource Officers' salaries are paid by the district. The two are based at Springfield and Thurston High School, but visit several other district schools.