Melody Gutierrez / mgutierrez@sacbee.com

Galt Police Chief William Bowen discusses gun training at a school board meeting, where trustees accepted his proposal.

Galt elementary district OKs gun safety course for teachers, staff

Published: Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013 - 2:05 pm

Teachers and school staff in the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District will be offered training in how to handle and fire a gun through a partnership with the Galt Police Department.

District trustees voted 5-0 Wednesday night to offer a gun awareness and safety course, which includes a trip to the Galt Police Department's firing range and help identifying the capabilities of different weapons.

"I'm all for it," said Myla Frantson, president of the district's classified union. "Educating people is important. If you know what you are up against, you know what your alternatives are."

Galt Police Chief William Bowen approached the six-school district with the idea after ongoing conversations about school security.

Concerns were heightened following the shooting deaths of 20 students and six teachers in December at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

In the months following the Newtown shooting, communities across the nation have discussed how to prevent similar tragedies on school campuses. Many proposals that have come forward have underscored bitter divisions in the post-Sandy Hook gun control debate.

Some have called for tighter regulations, while others, such as the National Rifle Association, have argued for armed guards outside every school.

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, introduced a bill last month that would allow schools to equip staff with firearms. Assembly Bill 202 would train "school marshals" and allow them to carry concealed weapons on campus.

The California Teachers Association said it opposes any efforts to arm educators across the state. Galt officials said arming school staff isn't a part of their plan.

"The intent is to give a basic understanding of different weapons," Bowen said.

On Wednesday, there wasn't a divisive gun debate inside the Galt City Hall chambers, where the elementary district holds its board meetings. No one spoke against the firearm safety course.

Galt elementary district board President Kevin Papineau said his district's plan seems like a common-sense approach to educate teachers on how to respond to a situation should it arise.

"I'm glad the chief has brought this to us," Papineau said.

Galt elementary district Superintendent Karen Schauer said she initially didn't know what to think of the request to train teachers and staff in firearm safety.

Schauer said employees told her it was important, as long as it remained voluntary professional development.

Bowen said staff time was the only financial consideration, and that the Police Department would help with most other costs.

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Read more articles by Melody Gutierrez



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