A small North Texas school district is considering several new security policies, including arming staff members with guns.
The Argyle Independent School District said having trained staff members with weapons would mean a significantly quicker response in an emergency.
Kevin Faciane, school board president, said the board voted 5-1 during a special session Wednesday to have Superintendent Telena Wright work on an amended security policy that would include armed staff members.
Faciane voted against the plan but told NBC 5 by phone Friday that the board is united in looking at the option carefully and thoroughly.
Wright said the drafting of the policy is in the very early phases. It will include extensive training requirements for armed staff members, and each carrier would have to be individually approved by the school board, she said.
Faciane said the district has been working with consultants from Dallas security company Craft International to assess the security needs and decide on a best plan of action.
Wright and Faciane said armed staff members are an attractive option because it would the district, which has limited resources, a more immediate response.
Argyle Police Chief William Tackett said that is very important in an active-shooter situation. Argyle police only have a handful of officers working at all times, he said. By the time mutual aid arrived from Denton or the county, a lot could happen.
"It's about being defensive," he said.
The school district held one public meeting on Craft’s proposals in April and has been actively meeting with parents on the issue since.
Wright said the feedback is mostly in favor of the plan but has heard concerns on both sides.
A supporter of the plan, Alice Linahan, the mother of three students, said she has been heavily engaged in the discussions.
"I'm for it,” she said. “We need a strategic plan.”
A lot of the discussion has focused on ensuring that staff members who are armed are anonymous.
"I don't want to know who it is," she said. "I don't want my children to know who it is. There’s going to be signs out that says this is an armed campus, but we don’t know who it is."
The school board also voted 4-2 in the special session to work with Argyle police and the Denton County Sheriff's Office on hiring a school resource officer to patrol the district's four campuses.
But one officer spread between four schools may not simply be enough, Wright said.
Linahan, who has children in elementary, middle and high school, said she wants to know that all of the campuses are covered at all times.
"This is a huge issue that I think needs to be looked at," she said.
Other community members who spoke to NBC 5 said they were not as supportive of the plan, and several others said they are opening to hearing more.
"I think it depends on the staff member," grandparent Tess Hansby said. "There are some people who should not have a gun. Then you have to ask yourself, what would you really do? Would you use it or would you be in a panic?"
"In an emergency, I think that it could be beneficial, but it would just have to do with training," said Jennifer Cains, a mother.
Both Cains and Hansby said they think security in the district is already pretty good. Doors are locked during school hours, and IDs must be scanned to get past the office.
Everyone who spoke to NBC 5 on Friday about the plan agreed that, if implemented, it would have to be crafted very carefully because there is no real road map to do it right.
"This is new," Linahan said. "This is not being done across the country, so we need to be smart about it."
Faciane said there is no timeline on when the policy could go to a board vote, saying that could not even say for sure if anything would be voted on in time for the next school year.