A limited number of St. Clair School District faculty and staff will be trained this summer to be school protection officers — allowing them to be armed with a weapon or a spray device.

The program was approved Monday night at the school board meeting.

Superintendent Dr. Kyle Kruse said having school protection officers would “serve as an effective deterrent” with the recent school shootings in Denver, Colo., and at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

The district will work with a company called Shield Solutions, which will interview, screen, test and train employees, according to Kruse.

“The individuals would not be named publicly,” he said. “We would also not divulge the number of school protection officers in the district.”

Kruse noted the St. Clair Police Department and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department are in favor of the program. Resource Officer Jim Wells will be included in the training of the school employees.

“I think we all take the protection of our staff and students very seriously and it’s the No. 1 priority,” Board President David Berkel said. “This is just going to show (further) support for our staff and students, and the protection of them as we move along.”

Board member Brian Hinson said this is something the district should do based on recent nationwide school shooting events.

“I don’t think it’s something that any of us want to do, but it’s something that is necessary,” he said. “We have to be committed to keep our staff and our kids safe.”

Kruse told The Missourian that candidates will be trained at a Shield Solutions facility. The cost for the training is based on the number of trainees, but Kruse estimates about $49,000, which includes training, ongoing screenings, evaluations and more for one school year.

The cost of the program is budgeted for the 2019-20 school year, he said.

“The Missouri Legislature has authorized this program as a way to address and deter violent incidents, and our board and our local law enforcement believe it is an effective way to deter those who might consider harming children,” Kruse said.

Police Chief Bill Hammack told The Missourian that the training program that Shield Solutions provides for a school employee is “very intense.”

“It is actually more weapons training than an officer would receive in a police academy,” said Hammack, noting it might be difficult for the district to find an employee willing to go through the initial training, in addition to yearly continued training and screenings.

“I think it’s a positive step forward for (the district) if (it) can find the right fit, the right personnel for each building, which could be a challenge for some school districts. Not everybody wants to have that responsibility,” Hammack said.

Arming teachers and staff is a less costly approach to having more security at the schools, according to Hammack.

“It’s extremely expensive for school districts to place an uniformed officer at each building. Our school district, if (it) wanted to do that, it would cost about $300,000 – with the equipment and vehicles,” he said.

Kruse added that information about becoming a school protection officer is spreading among faculty and staff, and those who are interested should contact him.

“We will have an informational session for those individuals in the next two weeks,” he said.

About Shield Solutions

Shield Solutions LLC, is a company based in West Plains that specializes in business and school security, according to its website.

The company offers a critical incident response course and a school employee firearms training program, which equips select employees to carry concealed firearms.

The select employees will under go a 40-hour initial training program and “will be better educated and trained with their firearms than most law enforcement officers.

“While serving in their capacity of protecting your school or workplace, actions of these select employees are covered under Shield Solutions’ liability insurance, should an unforeseen situation occur.”