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Guns In School Debate Raises Questions Over Who Should Fund Student Safety

Students at Alexander D. Goode School in York, Pa. on Feb. 18, 2016. Gov. Wolf visited the school as part of his Schools That Teach tour.

A GOP-proposed bill currently sitting in the state House is raising questions about who should be responsible for keeping Pennsylvania students safe.

It would give districts the option to let trained teachers carry firearms at school.

Indiana County School District Superintendent Dale Kirsch said in his mind, the issue of whether it’s appropriate to arm teachers comes down to available resources.

Currently, he said his district has one armed guard for its high school, but no security in its middle school or four elementary schools.

“I’d feel better if we had armed security in each building, versus having armed teachers,” he said. “But without the funding for armed security, at least arming teachers would give us an option.”

Kirsch plans to apply for a state security funding grant through the state’s existing Safe School Initiative, for which his district recently became eligible.

He noted, however, it’s unlikely to cover all six of the district’s buildings.

Governor Tom Wolf and other opponents of the plan argue school security is safer when it’s up to the state.

Wolf said while he’d veto the GOP bill, he supports allocating more money to the Safe School Initiative.

He’s at odds with at least the House on that point though. The chamber’s budget proposal slashes funding for the initiative—eliminating all of the approximately $8.5 million it was allocated this year.