AR-15 to be stored at Abby schools
By Ross Pattermann
An AR-15 rifle will be stored in a locked safe on the Abbotsford K-12 campus after the school board voted Monday to allow the school resource officer (SRO) to keep the weapon in a secure storage unit that only he can access.
The safe will feature “biometric” access technology, meaning that it can only be opened using SRO Patrick Leichtnam’s fingerprints. The locker, which will cost an estimated $400, will be kept in the SRO’s office.
At Monday’s meeting, Leichtnam was joined by Colby/Abbotsford police chief Jason Bauer and lieutenant Alex Bowman, who explained the reasons behind the locker and the need for an AR-15 on the school district grounds.
Bauer said the CAPD is looking to put a rifle in each local school district, but they wanted to get approval from each school board first.
“It’s not just because we want another gun in the school; we want the safety of our SRO and to help save lives if we do have an active shooter,” he said. “We’re responsible for every single round that we fire.”
If an active shooter appears on the premises with their own rifle, it would put the SRO at a severe disadvantage, police officials told the board.
“If they were to show up with a higher powered rifle, why would we want our schoolresourceofficertobeout-gunned?” Bowman said. “If he has a handgun, and our active shooter comes in with an AR, why would we not want to equip our SRO with a higher caliber rifle?”
Leichtnam, Bowman and Bauer each noted that a rifle is also much more effi cient and accurate at a distance, while a handgun is unreliable at those same distances.
Bauer said that only one AR-15 would be stored on Abbotsford’s K-12 campus, as officers responding to an active shooter scenario would be arriving on scene with their own issued rifles and firearms.
Board members asked some questions about the proposal and brought up some hypothetical situations, but the vote to approve it was unanimous.
“I think obviously the goal would be to never, ever, ever have to remove it from the vault,” superintendent Sherry Baker said.
Mil rate to go down
The school board held the district’s annual budget meeting on Monday. Baker told the board that the district’s mil rate is projected to go down by four percent, dropping from $10.35 per thousand last year to $9.57 this year.
The total tax levy collected from property owners within the district will be $2.1 million in 2019-2020, representing a 4 percent drop from 2018-2019. This includes $1.3 million for the general fund, $690,000 for debt payments and $65,000 for community service.
The drop is the result of increased equalization aid from the state, Baker said, and it comes after the district’s property values outside TIF districts increased by $8 million. The district’s operating budget will increase by roughly $275,000, from $9,983,607 last school year to $10,000,122 this year. The increase is a result of improvements to the north gym’s HVAC system, as well as the hiring of new dual language aides and the purchase of new English Language Arts curriculum.
_ The board accepted the resignation of Nicole Homeyer as middle school volleyball coach and Matt Cihlar as athletic director, with Cihlar’s term coming to an end in December of 2019.
_ The board passed a motion to hire Ally Meserole as head girls varsity basketball coach and Janice Reis as an elementary classroom volunteer.
_ The third Friday in September head count showed a total of 747 students within the district this year.
_ The board passed a motion to grant a request by Nicolet National Bank to use the district’s Falcon logo on debit cards requested by Abbotsford patrons.