Warren BOE authorizes concealed firearms for teachers

VINCENT — The Warren Local Schools Board of Education on Monday night approved a resolution that will allow superintendent Kyle Newton to authorize designated staff to carry concealed firearms in schools.

The resolution was passed after coming to the board last month and being tabled to allow two of the board members, Debbie West and Debbie Proctor, additional time to consider their positions. West and Proctor both voted in favor of the resolution Monday.

“I want to thank everyone who sent me information on this, I got lots, reviewed it, and I’m good with this,” West said.

The resolution means that starting in the fall, staff members in Warren schools who come forward and are accepted by Newton, and who have undergone rigorous training, will have the option to carry loaded guns as concealed weapons in schools. The new district process came about as a safety and security measure, driven by the increasing threat of gun violence in schools coupled with the district’s distance from centers of law enforcement.

After the meeting, Proctor said she had examined all the information she could find thoroughly before making her decision to support the resolution.

“I’m glad we were given that time to go through the information,” she said. “One thing people should be aware of is that it could be any staff member who’s armed, not necessarily a teacher. It would probably never happen that someone would have to use a gun, but I think if we put the message out that we are ready, it acts as a deterrent and makes it less likely.”

The district also approved a motion to plug two gas wells on school property. The wells were subject to a lease executed in 1977 with Wynn Oil Company and are in the way of new construction being undertaken as a result of the district’s $63 million building project on Warrior Drive.

Newton told the board the district will share half the cost, with the company, M&R Investments, which is a successor to Wynn as the well owner, doing the work. The maximum cost to the district will be $13,000 for each well, with $10,000 per well due up front and additional amounts up to the maximum on presentation of proof of cost after the work is complete.

“This is something we see all the time,” Newton said. “The company that owns them will perform the work, we share the cost, and they relinquish the lease to us, so it will no longer be leased.”

Newton said after the meeting that the negotiations to close off the wells had been complicated. Like many such wells, it was held by an investment company for several owners, each of which had to agree to the closure.

“We got seven of the eight owners to sign off, but the eighth one actually sent somebody out to look at them, and the guy said, ‘I think we could get some production out of this,’ so our lawyers had to negotiate with theirs,” he said. “We needed to get those wells plugged, so we agreed to pay part of the cost.”

Newton said the district at one time received royalties on production, but nothing had come out of the wells for at least 10 years.

Under the agreement, the company has to have the wells plugged by July 31 or face a daily penalty.

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. July 15 at the administrative offices on Sweetapple Drive.