Chicago conference tackles whether to allow guns in Illinois schools

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The debate to arm teachers was once again in the sights of educators as the Illinois Association of School Boards voted down a resolution giving local school districts the option to allow teachers and staff to carry guns.

The resolution, which would have only allowed trained staff to carry guns, failed for a second time. It was defeated 249 to 198.

"I cannot imagine asking teachers to carry guns with all the things that are occurring in the classroom, what else can we do but educate our children," said Janet Rogers, president of the Harvey School District 152 Board of Education.

A proposal supporting a safety grant program for districts passed.

Each November, the group representing IASB, the Illinois Association of School Administrators and Illinois Association of School Business officials determine issues the organization wants to pursue in the upcoming legislative sessions.

"Our board members are unanimous across this state in their desperation to protect our children," said IASB Executive Director Tom Bertrand. "I think where they disagree is the path forward to do that."

The proposal was mostly supported by rural and geographically isolated districts that are concerned about emergency response times and the lack of financial resources to hire school resource officers.

Jim Davis said his school board in Kendall County's Newark supported the measure.

"There's not a thing to require teachers to be armed so if your school district didn't feel that way, don't do it. But there are school districts that feel otherwise," he said.

The return of the resolution sparked a protest outside the Saturday conference by some education and gun violence prevention advocates such as Patrick Korellis, a survivor of the 2008 Northern Illinois University mass shooting.

"It just keeps happening over and over again," Korellis said. "I think we need to work on the legislation such as expanding background checks around gun sales. Those bills are out there now and I'm just hoping for more action on it."
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