EVANSTON — A lengthy agenda resulted in a four-hour meeting for the Uinta County School District No. 1 board of trustees for the regular meeting last week not including time spent in executive session.
Agenda items included presentations from Region V BOCES and the student services and technology departments, a proposal from Dominion Energy requesting an easement at North Elementary for gas line reinforcement, a renewal of district employee health insurance, school reports and multiple other items. Trustee Kim Bateman was not present for the meeting.
A noteworthy development during the May 8 meeting that was not on the agenda was the presentation of a community petition during the public comments portion of the meeting, when Evanston resident Gina Morrow presented a petition to the board asking the district to halt implementation of the recently adopted Policy CKA, which allows staff members to apply for approval to carry firearms on school property.
Morrow said the petition had been signed by 146 concerned members of the community, including students, parents, grandparents, teachers, former teachers, school district staff members and citizens.
She said signatures were still being collected and the signatures on the petition to that point had been collected in six days.
“This petition is based on the belief that the board should make evidence-based decisions,” she said. “Two years ago, the board took an oath to be more transparent to the members of this community. This petition gives you, the board, this great opportunity.”
The petition specifically asks the district to disclose information and evidence the board relied on in deciding to adopt the policy, disclose information regarding any less extreme measures that were considered, disclose information about how the advisory committee on the policy was organized, disclose how much the policy will cost the district, disclose any contributions and funds the district has received from outside sources and have a third reading of the policy that is widely publicized in the community.
The petition further requests that the district create a procedure through which parents can request their children not be forced to be in contact with armed staff, create a procedure to prevent the use of confidentiality as a barrier to transparency, create procedures for principals to request that staff in their schools not be armed and create gun free schools within the district so that parents may choose where to send their children.
“During the second reading there was clear confusion within the board and district employees regarding the number of readings that would be held to discuss this policy,” Morrow said. “It is obvious this policy has not been clearly thought out and should not be rushed into implementation.”
She went on to say she knew everyone had the common goal of keeping children safe.
“However,” she said, “rushing this policy to fruition without regard for common sense and evidence is a grave mistake. This should not be taken lightly and rushed into policy just because we have to ‘do something.’”
The petition closed with a request for a written response from the district within 30 days.
Neither the trustees nor district administration made any comments regarding the petition Morrow presented throughout the duration of the public meeting.
Trustees voted in March to allow firearms on school district property, making UCSD No. 1 the first to do so in Wyoming. Park County School District No. 6 followed suit in April.