Manchester, Ohio, a village of 1,900, has depended on the nearby Adams County Sheriff's Office since the 2017 dissolution of its own police department. Deputies could be anywhere from minutes to a half-hour away at any given moment.
That knowledge has worried Manchester Local Schools superintendent Brian Rau, who on Monday presented a plan to begin arming some school staff members during the 2019-'20 school year.
He hopes to select an initial team of five volunteers who would be vetted by the district, trained by a nearby tactical defense group and stationed across Manchester's two public schools.
Although the district already employs a school resource officer, Rau said he believes it's important each school has someone ready to respond with force in the event of a mass shooting.
"When we have an active shooter situation, it's not the time for counseling," he said. "It's not the time to determine whether he or she will pull that trigger. Unfortunately, that person has to act first because if they don't, the assailant will."
The village's small population means that, if the disaster Rau and others imagine materialized, the perpetrator would likely be someone responding school staff members know. Rau said he considers it important for them to be able to shoot an acquaintance if they needed to do so.
"Can that person pull the trigger on their colleague’s son or daughter who could possibly be the assailant?" he said. "That’s what has to be determined."
Some Manchester residents voiced their support for the proposal Wednesday afternoon.
"I think it's important today because we have so much chaos in our world," said Charla Striblen. "The good lord says, ‘If you don't take care of yourself, who is going to take care of you?'"
Alumna Marissa Osman, who has a sister still attending Manchester Local Schools, felt exactly the opposite.
In an email on the subject, she wrote: "This decision by MLSD is one to turn teachers into soldiers and the school into a warzone. It is not responsible, by any stretch of the imagination, and cannot be covered up by thinly veiled declarations of 'protecting' students."
A final decision on the issue will not arrive until 2019.