BAUXITE, Ark. – It’s a sign that’s turning a lot of heads in the Bauxite School District. This week the district shared on social media images of the signs around campus which alert visitors about armed staff.

The post now has hundreds of shares and is drawing mixed opinions. 

Superintendent of the school district, Matt Donaghy said their program ‘The Commission School Security Officers’ was created in 2018, allowing school officials to pick staff members to be armed and use whatever force is necessary to protect students and staff, specifically in a school shooting incident. 

“You have to be certified by the state police, there’s a lot of training, and background checks and psychological exams,” Donaghy explained. 

Donaghy said after numerous school shootings that have happened across the country, school officials did not want Bauxite to become a target which is in part of the reason they created the signs around campus to make people aware of their armed staff. 

“If you come to our campus, you will be met immediately with whatever force we have to use to stop the threat,” Donaghy stated. 

Donaghy said the district has close to 2,000 students and nearly 200 staff members, he adds the safety of each of their lives are their utmost importance. 

Donaghy also said staff members part of the program have had hours of training and they are very particular about who they pick.

Although Donaghy could not give an answer to how many are currently a part of the program because of ‘safety concerns,’ he said he strongly believes they can be essential if a situation like a shooting arises on campus. 

“We (school officials) made it very clear this year we (CSSO program members) have to have our weapon on us because we don’t have time to go back in and mess with a lock,” Donaghy said.

Tyler Cross said his son is a student at Bauxite and when it comes to having staff members having guns on campus, he has mixed feelings. 

“I don’t want guns in the school. I really don’t think they have any place there.” Cross adds.

As for Angie Tisdale whose family has gone to Bauxite for years, she feels differently.

“I just felt like the sign on the school is a band aid to a bad solution.” Tindale said. “Whenever my son was most excited about it, he felt more comfortable with his daughter (her grandchild) being protected by it. That made me feel more comfortable about it as well.”

Cross said he has a lot of questions surrounding the program, like the total number of hours each member had to go through in training to become certified and specifics on the training itself. He also said he believes the real issue is not only guns on school campuses but another big topic. 

“I would love to see some actual gun reform laws,” Cross said.

Donaghy urged any parents that have questions to contact him. 

“If they’re concerned about staff members carrying a weapon, it’s something I completely understand and would be happy to discuss with them,” Donaghy said.