Former Grove board member raises concerns about safety

Staff writer

A former Valley Grove School Board member attended the panel’s meeting Tuesday night and addressed safety concerns in the wake of last week’s deadly high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that claimed 17 lives.

James Speth, who is also a Rocky Grove High School graduate and has children who attend school in the district, said he wants to see teachers trained to recognize signs of distress in students.

“Stronger safety measures need to be taken,” Speth said to the board. “I know it’s taboo to mention arming the staff, but some teachers and some students hunt and many public places have armed protection.”

Speth, who is also a current member of Sugarcreek Borough Council, said schools make easier targets and that 95 percent of them don’t have teachers who are armed.

“If the teachers (in Parkland) had been armed they would have stopped the shooting,” Speth said.

He urged the board to “keep the pressure up” and speak with lawmakers R. Lee James and Scott Hutchinson.

Franklin School Board members gave the go-ahead at their meeting Monday for the district to look into hiring a school resource officer who could aid in student security.

Franklin board president Brian Spaid said the cost of hiring a resource officer, including salary, benefits and pension, could be upwards of $100,000 a year.

“I can do it for a lot less than $100,000 (a year),” Speth said Tuesday at the Valley Grove meeting.

“Would we rather count bodies or have the teachers be prepared?” Speth asked the board.

Board members and administrators thanked Speth for his remarks but did not add any comments of their own to the discussion.