The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
By STACEY HAIRSTON - Staff Writer
A bill has been introduced in the Virginia General Assembly that would require school boards to designate at least one qualified person for every school in the district to carry a concealed handgun on school property.
The designated person could include certain school division employees, school volunteers or retired law enforcement officers who carry valid concealed handgun permits.
The bill, HB21, would require that designated person to be certified and trained by the Virginia Center for School Safety or the National Rifle Association in the storage, use and handling of a concealed handgun.
The Department of Criminal Justice Services would design the training requirements, which would include training in situational assessments pertaining to the use or display of a firearm, the safe carrying and storage of a concealed firearm and the use of a firearm.
Requirements would also include training in the proper response to emergency situations on school property until the arrival of law enforcement to the scene and the laws pertaining to the carrying and use of concealed firearms.
Although the bill was referred to the House Committee on Education in November, long before session began this year, the committee has yet to discuss the proposed legislation.
Another bill dealing with school safety, HB66, passed in the House Education Committee but was killed in the a House Appropriations subcommittee on education, likely because the fiscal impact of the legislation would be $243,034,852 in 2015 and $130,780,728 in each consecutive year.
HB66 would have required school boards to place a school resource officer in each public elementary and secondary school in the state.
The estimated cost to provide the funding for a resource officer in every school is estimated at $242.9 million in FY 2015 and $130.4 million in FY 2016 and beyond, according to the fiscal impact report prepared by Appropriations staff. This cost assumes the inclusion of a vehicle in the first year. Without the cost of a vehicle for each officer, the bill would require Lottery funding of $109.5 million each year. In addition, the Department of Criminal Justice Services would need to provide additional training sessions at a cost of $100,000 the first year and $372,000 each year thereafter.
The proposed legislation would require the Lottery Proceeds Fund to pay for the costs of school resource officers prior to being used for any other purpose, according to the impact statement. Currently, the Lottery Proceeds Fund supports a number of educational programs. It should be noted that 100 percent of lottery proceeds are currently appropriated for public education purposes;
therefore, if lottery funds are diverted to support school resource officers, a decision must be made regarding the continuation of the programs currently funded with lottery proceeds. If they are continued, general fund support would be required.