GHS trio ask school board to require education on safe storage of guns

GUILDERLAND – On February 15, three students stood here in front of the school board, calling on the board to pass a resolution requiring parents to be educated on the safe storage of firearms.

“We’re scared,” said Connor Webb, who stood with Nora Whiteside and Emily O’Connor.

“We demand more because we deserve more,” Webb said.

He is president of the Guilderland branch of March For Our Lives.

The student-led organization with offices across the country was founded in 2018 after the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. A former student with disciplinary problems, 19-year-old Nicholas Cruz opened fire on students and staff on February 14 of that year, killing 17 and injuring 17 others.

Following the March 24 massacre in Washington, DC, a student “March for Our Lives” took place with coordinated demonstrations in more than 800 locations across the country and around the world. An estimated 2 million people in the United States took part in protests that included 90 percent of all constituencies, crossing party lines, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, which helped organizers.

The March for Our Lives umbrella organization continues to track gun deaths and has registered more than 167,745 people since the shooting in Parkland, Florida.

“We have hundreds of offices across the country under the leadership of students who accept change at the local level,” the website said. “Whether by organizing a walk in high school, lobbying for better security on campus, writing state laws, or appearing at school and city council meetings, our leaders are making a difference.”

Webb told the Gilderland School Board that between August 1 and November 30 last year, there were at least 104 shootings on the school grounds, killing 20 people and injuring 79.

“At least 5.4 million children live in a house that has at least one unlocked and loaded weapon, and at least 80 percent of school shooters under the age of 18 buy guns from home, including a recent shooter from Oxford, Michigan, who killed four, “Webb said.

Ethan Crumbley, a 15-year-old sophomore at Oxford High School, was charged with terrorism and first-degree murder of four students in a shooting on Nov. 30, 2021, and his parents were charged with four counts of manslaughter.

At a December meeting of the Gilderland School Board after the Oxford shooting, the board discussed the safety of the school for a long time.

On February 1, Webb told the board that Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots organizations, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, have published “a comprehensive roadmap to prevent school fires, and at the top of their list is safe firearms storage. ”

Founded in 2013, the nonprofit organization Everytown for Gun Safety is largely funded by Michael Bloomberg, a businessman and former mayor of New York City.

“The measures proposed today are consistent, backed up by data, and most importantly, most of them can be applied tomorrow…” – says in the “road map” Everytown.

Most of the recommendations address legislation at the state and federal levels, but some encourage local initiatives such as calling on pediatricians to advise families on safe weapons storage.

In addition, educators are encouraged to ask questions about access to weapons, “especially at home, when working with a student may pose a risk of harm to oneself or the school community. Schools need to be aware of the relevant emergency risk laws and how they should be used to prevent access to weapons, ”the roadmap said.

“Since parents must be held accountable if they do not provide their firearms, we will launch a national call to encourage prosecutors to bring appropriate charges against gun owners who failed to provide firearms that promote gun violence,” he said. map of Everytown. . “In addition to activating our millions of supporters, we will work with prosecutors’ associations to make recommendations that prosecutors can act on.”

More than 1.5 million students in the United States now live in a school district that requires schools to inform parents about the critical importance of safe firearms storage, Everytown says.

The group promotes the program “Be smart”, in which the abbreviation for parents is written as follows:

– Provide all weapons in their home and vehicles;

– Model of responsible behavior around weapons;

– Ask about the availability of unsecured weapons in other homes;

– Recognize the role of weapons in suicide; and

– Tell your peers to be SMART.

Webb told the Gilderland School Board: “We are unnecessarily traumatized again and again because of these death threats. The fight against security at school must include the fight against gun violence that takes place inside and outside our classrooms. ”

Webb said school boards in Vermont, Texas, California, Arizona, South Carolina and Georgia have passed resolutions that require educating parents about the safe storage of firearms. Last week, a school board in Montgomery, Maryland, passed such a resolution, Webb said, urging Gilderland to do the same.

Webb said it would be in line with Gilderland’s focus on security as well as social and emotional health. Each city, he said, has identified the issue of mental health as a second priority to reduce gun violence.

Board President Simo Rivera asked students to send the school board more information for consideration at the next meeting.

Another thing

As for other issues, at the February 15 meeting of the Gilderland School Board:

– Heard from Business Assistant Superintendent Neil Sanders that due to higher-than-expected costs of transportation contracts, as well as due to calculations on tax charters resulting from Gilderland’s revaluation in 2019, the district’s balance sheet and reserves will be used .

He said the money was “set aside for situations where we have unforeseen expenses”. He said the council would be informed of the harder figures closer to the end of the year.

“It’s all balanced. It does not affect us in the future, ”Sanders said, adding that there will be no impact on tax collection or tax restrictions;

– I heard that this year six teachers were named in the New York State Master’s program: Ashley Girard and Stacy Dimur at Farnsworth High School and Max Corbett, Alicia McTiernan, Jared Faure and Deb Boyce at Gilderland High School.

Superintendent Marie Wiles said Gilderland has the largest number of master teachers from all districts in the region and possibly in the state.

This year, 230 faculty members were named in the program, joining a network of master teachers created in 2013, bringing the total number of selected master teachers across New York State to more than 1,400.

The program was created to recruit, retain and reward the best teachers in popular subject areas of mathematics and science. To do this, teachers receive an annual stipend of $ 15,000, or $ 60,000 for four years, as well as the opportunity to study at New York State University;

– Heard from Wiles the results of the ThoughtExchange exchange, which invited three groups to share their priorities for next year’s budget. A total of 307 students, 149 staff or faculty, and 187 parents and community members participated in the online survey. The results are posted on the district website;

– Commissioner Wiles to draw up a memorandum of understanding between the school district and the Association of Gilderland Support Services under a contract that will run from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2024;

– Approved the creation of a scholarship in honor of Damian Singleton, a longtime head of education in Gilderland, who died of cancer on October 18, 2021 at the age of 52. The Dr. Damian Singleton Memorial Fellowship recognizes the student, “who has overcome the unique challenges and embodies the ideals that Dr. Singleton championed: social justice, inclusion and enrichment for all. The purpose of the award will be to provide assistance in the cost of further education without taking into account the average score or specialty of the college “; and

– Considered a nine-page memorandum of understanding involving the school district, city and Gilderland Police Department for the School Resources Officer, which the council will vote on at its next meeting.

“We’ve never had a memorandum of understanding,” Wiles said, explaining that in the past the agreement was more informal, but a written agreement is a requirement of the district’s security plan.

The city pays the officer’s salary for the year, and the school district pays the city for 180 days that the officer is in schools, Sanders said.

Board member Nathan Saburin asked if the officer was armed, and Wiles said he was armed.

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