AMA ESD adopts resolution opposing Senate bills

ALPENA – The Alpena-Montmorency-Alcona Educational Service District Board of Education adopted a resolution during Thursday’s meeting in opposition to Senate Bills 584-586 and 366, which would allow anyone licensed to carry concealed weapons to be able to walk into a school building with their gun.

The Senate bills were discussed at the AMA ESD December board meeting and Superintendent Scott Reynolds brought forth the resolution to be adopted during Thursday’s meeting.

“This came to our attention on what’s active legislatively because these bills had gone through the Senate,” Reynolds said. “This is something that as it was going through legislation, I worked to keep the board updated and at the December meeting, members of the board wanted to have some more thorough discussion on this and questioned what our role is in responding to this legislation that’s pending right now.”

Reynolds said he conferred with the AMA ESD’s resources through the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators and the Michigan Association of School Boards and thinks they did a nice job of summarizing some of the concerns that exist in the Senate bills.

Reynolds contacted the MAISA and with the AMA ESD’s membership with MAISA, it has access to other superintendents across the state and the resolution already had received support by other school boards.

“It was nice to take a look at how they were able to articulate and really clearing what the concerns are in a format that’s easy to understand and also captures the message that we support,” Reynolds said.

The resolution states that AMA ESD believes the only people who should have guns on school property should be uninformed public safety officers.

The resolution also states that AMA ESD’s concerns are focused on the safety of its students, staff and others who are visiting the school campuses and allowing more guns in schools is not a solution and places more people in harm’s way.

“Ultimately, student safety is a top priority because we’re here to educate students, but you can’t do that if you don’t have a safe environment,” Reynolds said. “After having an opportunity to see what some other districts across the state have done in opposition of the Senate bills, I thought it was prudent to bring that to our board to review and to discuss.”

Reynolds said adopting the resolution gives the board an opportunity to share its position with local legislators and Gov. Rick Snyder.

“When they’re considering this, I hope they keep in mind what we as one of their constituents consider to be important in relation to these bills,” he said.

Senate Bill 584 would allow an individual with a Concealed Pistol License to request a special endorsement to carry a concealed firearm into no-carry zones, such as schools, day cares, and stadiums with only a minimal amount of additional training.

“The additional training required as I recall is training consisting of eight hours and shooting 94 rounds and I think the threshold for ensuring the safety of our students needs to be greater than that,” Reynolds said.

Senate Bill 586 would prohibit local board of education decisions on whether or not to allow weapons on school property by amending Public Act 319 of 1990 to include a school district, community college district and public library in the list of public entities that are prohibited from enacting firearm regulations stricter than any federal or state law.

Senate Bill 366 would create a concealed pistol license for people ages 18-21 instead of the current law that does not allow concealed carry for anyone under the age of 21.

The resolution is now going to be sent to Snyder and the district’s state representatives senators. Since the resolution is now adopted, the AMA ESD opposes Senate Bills 584-586 and 366 and urges lawmakers and the governor to allow local school boards to enact their own policies regarding weapons on school grounds.

“I have confidence that any time we contact our local legislators or the governor that they take the feedback from their constituents seriously,” Reynolds said. “It is our intent that in receiving this, they take the time to review it, and weigh the concerns and needs of maintaining a safe school environment and weigh those again the wording and information that’s provided in the bill.”

Reynolds said it’s not only about school safety, it’s also about the local ability to make decision that affect the community and school setting.

“This resolution that was adopted by our board doesn’t speak on behalf of local districts, it speaks on behalf of the ESD as an entity,” he said.

Julie Goldberg can be reached via email at jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688.