By Jeremiah Dobruck and Hannah Fry
4:59 PM PST, February 8, 2014
A split school board recently asked how much it would cost to post armed guards at campuses in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa.
In a 4 to 3 vote Tuesday, Newport-Mesa Unified School District trustees asked administrators to find out the price tag for armed security at a single elementary school or high school — something that could scale districtwide.
In interviews after the vote, trustees emphasized the exploration doesn't mean they'll eventually put guns in the hands of guards, but the idea was distasteful enough to some board members to vote against even finding out the price.
"I don't feel that it would be a deterrent if someone is really set on causing harm," said Trustee David Brooks, a retired Costa Mesa police officer.
Brooks questioned what level of training each security guard would have and whether that's enough to entrust them with children's safety.
"To take a person off the street that has a clean record and give them a gun, then put them in schools and say we have armed security, well no, we have armed people," he said.
After some research over the summer, Newport-Mesa Unified administrators decided not to pursue the option of arming guards at its two high schools in Costa Mesa.
Instead they waited for the CMPD to provide officers to patrol the schools, a program that's expected to restart Monday after more than a year's hiatus.
The school board's vote Tuesday, however, revives the idea and expands it to look at elementary schools as well.
School Board President Karen Yelsey said she hasn't formed a final opinion but the district has a responsibility to at least explore the option.
"If I felt it would be appropriate security, and we had the right people, I could possibly be in favor," Yelsey said.
School Board Vice President Martha Fluor voted with the majority Tuesday but said that doesn't indicate how she'd vote on actually implementing the idea.
"I do not feel comfortable with armed guards on our school sites," she said. "I'm not real crazy about that concept."