The Saratoga Sun -

Guns and cashflow

CCSD No. 2 superintendent speaks on school gun policy

 


On April 2 at 6 p.m. the Medicine Bow Lion’s Club had a dinner and meeting at the Virginian Hotel which had Jim Copeland, Superintendent of Carbon County School District No. 2 (CCSD 2), as a guest speaker for the first time.

For the first hour, the Medicine Bow Lions Club members introduced themselves and explained to Copeland the program of the club giving away free eye glasses, exams and assistance with eye surgery for people in the community.

Shane Blakeman, President of the Lions Club, also told Copeland activities the Medicine Bow chapter had been doing for the past year.

Copeland commenced his address to the group gathered by praising the Saratoga Sun for starting to cover Northern Carbon County.

“I really do appreciate the coverage. I noticed in the past few months stories from Hanna, Elk Mountain and Medicine Bow. I think it is a great thing.”

Copeland said by giving information about all the area that encompasses CCSD 2, makes the community stronger.

He told the group he worked in public school systems of Texas and Colorado before coming to Wyoming. Copeland finds CCSD 2 a special and unique place because of the large distances between the towns and campuses. He has been focusing on opening communications between schools. Copeland sees many great things in the classrooms as he travels to different schools and wants these positive activities and expertise shared.

Two questions usually come up when people meet him, said Copeland after this past legislative session.

“The legislature passed a bill where each school board has the option to have an employee who works for a school district, to carry a firearm in the school.”

If CCSD 2 did consider to allow firearms in the schools, conditions would have to fall in place before it could happen said Copeland.

An individual would have to apply for a permit, as long as they had a Wyoming concealed permit. A training program would have to be in place to allow guns in school. The policy would have to made in cooperation with law enforcement agencies in each municipality, along with the highway patrol and sheriff’s department. The gun would have to be carried on the person or in a biometric lock box at all times.

“One exemption is no guns can be carried to sporting events,” said Copeland.

The Wyoming State Board of Education is forecast to have a policy for districts to review as a model.

A large concern for implementing this policy is liability according to Dr. Copeland. Insurance agencies want to know they can be guaranteed there is zero chance of a gun falling into a child’s hands or the wrong person. Large insurance companies, including the one currently covering Carbon County School District #2 ,have said they will not insure schools that allows guns.

This could lead to more expensive policies while school districts face budget cuts because of the decline in state energy revenues.

“There is this conflict right now between how much money we have and how much money we have that can support certain programs,” said Copeland.

He likes that Wyoming has a block model, Copeland said. This means money can be allocated for something like groundskeeping, but maybe it is decided not all the money needs to be spent there and it can be used to fund other programs.

“The state figures out a formula and gives you a certain amount of money, but you are allowed flexibility to where you feel the funds are needed most,” Copeland explained. “Many states don’t allow this.”

The legislature is recalibrating the model this summer. If the state decides to go with just budget cuts, the school are looking at a 25 percent budget cut.

Copeland said,“25 percent is pretty substantial. Schools would look very different than they do now.”

He says interesting times are ahead for the schools. Next year, a two percent cut is anticipated so Copeland pointed out the loss was relatively painless. After that, he could not say what was going to happen.

“My philosophy is this: Carbon two has seen its up and downs before, and I have all the faith in the people that live here and my staff so we can take what happens and will move forward for the kids sake,” said Copeland.

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