Holly resident David Cornelius...
HOLLY, Michigan – Holly area resident David Cornelius is a retired police officer and has been a firearm instructor and shooting range master for the past 15 years.
Cornelius used the public comment segment of the March 11 Holly Area Schools Board of Education meeting to tell board members that he favors having armed security guards and/or armed teachers in all of the Holly Area School buildings.
“If people are properly trained and placed in schools, we could certainly avoid a situation like the one that happened in Connecticut,” Cornelius said referencing the December mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CN. “It took the police 10 minutes to respond – nobody in the school was armed and unfortunately, there was more mayhem and misery that took place before police did arrive.”
In addition to suggesting that each school employ an armed security guard, Cornelius also advocates training teachers to carry weapons in the schools. “There again, I think it’s a good idea,” he said. “There are alarm systems that are available and can be placed in the rooms – if something happens, they’re set off and all the teachers know,” he said. “Those with weapons would be in a different position and if there is an armed security guard in there or a police officer, they would definitely be able to take action.”
During his report to the board, Barnes discussed a buzzer system that will soon be installed in the district’s buildings, and addressed Cornelius’ thoughts.
“There have been a lot of discussions regarding safety – obviously we’re concerned about safety,” Barnes said. “But what we want to have is a very well-thought out response, not a knee jerk, and what we will be having installed into our buildings will be the buzzer system, for lack of a better term.”
Barnes said he has taken the time to speak with local police and government officials on the matter or ensuring staff and student safety in the schools.
“The issue of teachers carrying weapons – there is a lot of pros and cons to that,” Barnes said. “Most people in education didn’t go into education to shoot armed weapons – they went in because they cared about kids and wanted to teach,” he added. “I don’t disagree that we want to take all prudent steps, but we can’t make our schools prisons – they still have to be safe, secure and inviting.”
While Barnes didn’t dismiss Cornelius’ idea of allowing teachers and other staff members to carry concealed weapons in the schools, he said if that were to happen, adequate discussion followed by adequate training would be crucial.
“We have individuals who have never shot a weapon,” Barnes said. “I think they would almost be afraid to carry a water pistol – those are not the people that you want, it’s not for everyone.”
Barnes said he expects legislation on the topic to be presented and passed in the future. “What I believe the governor wants is to allow each individual school district to make that final decision,” he said. “No one is arguing that we don’t need to provide as much safety as we can for our students and staff and our community members in our buildings – the crucial issue is how we can accomplish this and that’s why discussions are still ongoing.”
Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services Steve Lenar said buzzer security systems are scheduled to be installed in all of the district’s school buildings later this month. Lenar said it is the goal to have all installations completed and the system up and running by May 1.
Lenar said the buzzer system will cost the district between $16,000 and $18,000, and that all of the funds will come from the district’s maintenance budget.
Because the cost of the system is less than $20,000, the issue has been handled administratively, and without a vote by the board.