While legislators in other states are wrestling with the idea of allowing teachers to carry guns in school, those in Indiana already can do it.
Thursday night, the Bloomfield Board of School Trustees briefly discussed the firearms issue during a first policy reading of several policy changes necessitated by changes made in the law by the Indiana General Assembly.
New state law makes schools gun-free zones and exempts anyone who has been employed or authorized by a school "to act as a security guard, perform or participate in a school function, or participate in any other activity authorized by a school."
According to the law, schools could designate teachers or other employees as security officers and allow them to be armed. However, don't expect that to happen in the Bloomfield School District.
"I'm not sure it's a good idea for this board to appoint a staff member to carry weapons," Supt. Dan Sichting told the school board members.
Bloomfield resident and local insurance agency owner John Mensch concurred and advised that if the board would take that action, they should expect hefty cost increase in liability insurance premiums.
"This is so new, it makes everyone (in the insurance industry) nervous," Mensch commented. "This could be a danger situation that you (the board) could make worse."
Sichting said aside from the expected big jump in insurance costs, arming a staff member would be a very expensive move. The person carrying the gun would have to complete certified firearms training at a law enforcement academy and be heavily trained in firearms use and safety procedures.
A new law dealing with firearms on school grounds went into effect July 1.
It is now unlawful for anyone to carry a weapon ---- even those licensed the carry a firearm ---- on any school property, school event or in a school-owned vehicle, according to Sichting.
The superintendent said the only exceptions would be certified licensed law enforcement officers.
Violation of this law is now a class D felony.
Supt. Sichting reported that informal contact bargaining talks with the Bloomfield Teacher's Association took place in a meeting July 15
He said discussions centered on contract language that needed to be amended due to changes in the law last July after the previous contract was ratified. Discussions were also conducted in compensation models the "Excellence in Teaching Performance Grant". Because of changes in the law, formal bargaining talks can't begin until Aug. 1.
The contract between the board and the teacher's union expired June 30.
Sichting called the first meeting "productive" and said it was the hopes of the board and administration that an impasse and mediation can be avoided as the talks move forward.
In other matters, the board:
* Extended the contract one-year for athletic director Ron McBride from Aug. 1 to July 31, 2014 (201 days) with no adjustment in salary.
* Hired Nicole Peter as a full-time business teacher. Peter has previously served as long term substitute teacher and she has been the school's girls softball coach for the last three seasons.
Supt. Sichting was given permission to fill three remaining staff vacancies before the start of the school year early next month. Vacancies include: a NJROTC teaching position, a Project Lead the Way one-year position and one elementary level teaching position.
* Recognized junior Lexi Place as new member of the Indiana High School Athletic Association Student Advisory Board on a two-year appointment.
* Adopted book rental fees for the elementary, junior high and high school.
* Gave permission for the Apple Festival Committee to use school facilities for the upcoming festival Oct. 3-6.
* Approved a request to add finite math as an option for students wanting to take a four-year math class to meet Core 40 or Academic Honors Diploma requirements.
* Acknowledged the anonymous donation of $140 to the school's Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program.
* Learning that the school district will receive no Tax Increment Financing (TIF) revenue for the 2014 budget year. The Greene County Redevelopment Commission has determined they will need all of the TIF revenue to pay outstanding bonds held by the commission.
The board's next meeting will be Thursday, Aug. 26.