MILAM COUNTY, Texas - When school starts Wednesday in Thorndale some staff members will not only have a lesson plan, a few will be armed.
Six warning signs were put up Monday around the campus which includes the elementary, middle and high school. Superintendent Adam Ivy told FOX-7 he regrets the need for the signs but not the decision to put them up.
“To me, honestly I hope those signs are there to say to people, Thorndale ISD is prepared and maybe change someone’s mind,” said superintendent Ivy.
School officials are not disclosing how many employees will be armed.
Ivy said Thorndale is operating under the school guardian law and not the school marshal program.
There’s 80 hours of training and psychological screenings for those who take part in the school marshal program; its managed by the Texas commission on law enforcement.
A training exercise took place last week in Pflugerville. A similar process was provided to the Thorndale guardian candidates, but standards were set by the school board, according to Ivy.
“We looked for someone who could come in confidentially, and do the training for us, make it as intense as we cold possible get it, in a classroom and a range environment. There were obviously live fire exercises, there were psychological exercises. A lot of training, even some hand to hand defensive strategies, and even some medical, how to stop the bleeding,” said Ivy.
Thorndale is a town of about 1,300 people. The school campus has an enrollment of a little more than 500 students.
It situated between giant grain silos on highway 79 and miles of open ranch land.
The school district started looking into setting up a guardian program back in April. The superintendent told FOX-7 Austin when they surveyed the staff, 85% to 90% supported the idea.
A community survey, followed, and generated about 400 responses; most in support. Now that warning signs are up support remains strong from parents like Penny Watson, who does worry some about an accidental discharge.
“Yeah, it could ... happen anywhere, but I’d rather there be a gun in case something comes up. At least it’s there,” said Watson.
Trey Felton, who runs a Meat Market and BBQ business in Thorndale said guns are a familiar part of this rural community. He believes guns on the school campus will provide a safety net.
“The police department is great but they may not be able to respond in time. so I feel safer for the children of having some responsible teachers able to respond quickly,” said Felton.
Before the sign posts could settle in the ground in Thorndale, Superintendent Ivy said he was getting calls from other school superintendents.
He is sharing information about their new gun policy and Ivy believes more signs at schools in other towns will soon be going up.