‘UpFront’: WASB official says school security bill ‘a step in the right direction’

An official with the Wisconsin Association of School Boards says an Assembly bill to provide grants to schools that wish to beef up their security is “a step in the right direction,” but more resources will likely be needed.

Bob Butler, associate executive director of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, appeared Sunday on “UpFront with Mike Gousha” to discuss school safety efforts in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting that left 17 people dead. “UpFront” is produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

Butler said Wisconsin schools have been diligent over the years in adopting safety plans and revisiting them frequently.

He said they are also trying to intercede on the front end with troubled students, “looking at things that may have precipitated these kinds of thoughts and or behaviors.”

Gousha asked him about suggestions that teachers take training and carry weapons in school. Butler said there are many questions surrounding that, including liability and staff willingness to carry guns.

“From our organization’s standpoint, this is a difficult question, because each of our members has unique facilities, unique location, and what may not be a prudent course of action for a district that has law enforcement nearby, may be a strategy and tactic that a rural school district with less law enforcement available contemplates,” he said.

Gousha also asked Butler about a bill the Assembly passed that would create a grant program to pay armed guards in schools.

“We think it’s a step in the right direction,” Butler said.

“Ultimately, what we would prefer to see is resources available for those school districts so they could have resource officers or police liaison officers if they want to go that route,” he said.

— In another segment, retired Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske said Wisconsin voters aren’t ready to elect a justice who runs an openly partisan campaign.

Geske discussed lessons from the failed candidacy of Madison-area attorney Tim Burns, who ran as an unabashed progressive and finished last in the Feb. 20 primary.

“He was so out there,” Geske said. “It was as though he was telling you how he was going to vote on every political case.”

“I think that Wisconsinites still want a judge who is going to look at a case and decide it on its merits,” she said.

Geske also said she is concerned about “what this race is going to look like in the next couple of months” as special interest money flows into it.

She said special interest groups make personal attacks and “play on issues that are not really issues for the court.”

She said that has led her to question whether the state should continue to have an elected judiciary.

— Alex Lasry, an official with the Milwaukee Bucks, also appeared on the program to discuss Milwaukee’s bid to bring the 2020 Democratic National Convention to Wisconsin.

Lasry said the team’s new downtown arena, which is scheduled to open this fall, could host the convention.

“The second the arena opens up, we are ready to go,” he said. Lasry is the team’s vice president of strategy and operations, but said he is working on the DNC bid as “citizen Lasry” and the team is separate from the effort.

Lasry, along with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, and Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, announced the bid last week.

“This is a bipartisan effort to try to bring a major convention that is going to shine a major spotlight and put Milwaukee on center stage, not to mention bring a lot of money that otherwise wouldn’t be coming into the city,” he said.

The Bucks also are making a bid to host an NBA All-Star game in their new arena in 2022 or 2023.

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