The Hamilton City Schools Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday evening to reverse a prior decision that would have allowed them to arm some school staffers during the upcoming year. According to the Journal-News, it's partially a matter of money: The district wants to know the outcome of a November tax levy that would help fund certain increases in local school security.
"Our reason for this delay is because the board wants to know if we will be able to afford (armed) school resource officers in all of our buildings and that is dependent of the passing of the levy," board member Laurin Sprague said in a statement after the meeting. “Furthermore, the board has decided regardless of the levy outcome that Hamilton teachers will not be armed.
"The board does, however, want to keep open the possibility of arming other school personnel (some classified or administrative) in the voluntary, well trained status that has been discussed to this point."
Butler County Sheriff RIchard Jones, who has advocated strongly for schools in his county to arm their personnel, seemed to view the decision as a betrayal. He told the Journal-News after the meeting he could no longer trust the school board or support the proposed levy.
"I'm not supporting their money grab," said Jones.
In fact, he said, he planned to take out billboards criticizing the reversal, just as he had done in June in an attempt to pressure the board into adopting the policies for which he advocated.
Although Jones' voice carries far -- he is a semi-regular guest on Fox News, and his sporadically punctuated Twitter account has 10,000 followers -- his perspective isn't shared by everyone in Hamilton City Schools. At a public meeting in July, some said they would not support the school board if its future security plans included arming teachers.
"I will sign any levy that makes that building safer," parent Mary Snellgrove said. "I will not support this board if they arm staff."
Other security suggestions Hamilton City Schools have considered include contracting more resource officers, staffing more mental health professionals and minimizing the physical vulnerability of its school buildings.