Moffat Board of Education concerned about security

Photo by Patrick Shea The Moffat Board of Education scored high marks on its audit and discussed safety and other issues on Jan. 16.

MOFFAT — During its regular meeting on Jan. 16, the Moffat Board of Education heard results from a new auditing firm. The board also went through second readings of policy documents, approved boiler improvements for the school, refined wording for the district’s “Just and Fair” policy and considered tactics for security.

After adjusting the agenda, the board received financial audit results from Jessica Bogner from Wall, Smith, and Bateman Inc. This was the first year Bogner’s firm audited financial statements for the Moffat School District. The analysis comes from data as of June 30, 2022.

“In our opinion,” Bogner read from the report, “these financial statements are fairly presented in accordance with our standards. This is what we call an unmodified opinion. This is the type of opinion that you want.”

Bogner explained that they did not give an opinion on the district’s internal controls. But for federal funds, they addressed internal controls because it exceeded $750,000 during the fiscal year. Passing this threshold triggers an audit.

“Concealed Carry discussion” was the first item under New Business on the agenda.

“Today was a quick response from the county, but that was the first time ever,” noted Joe Garcia, Moffat’s Superintendent and Principal. Garcia notified law enforcement of a credible threat between students, and officers from the Colorado State Patrol and Saguache County Sheriff’s Department responded quickly. They took statements and filed a case.

Garcia noted that three other schools in the San Luis Valley have dedicated personnel with a concealed carry permit. Whereas basic training for concealed carry authorization is not cheap, the four-day training for educator authorization costs four or five times more. Liability costs are also higher for school districts with dedicated staff legally permitted to carry a gun in the school. Educator permits require a higher level of authorization and training.

Board members found more cons than pros with the idea of storing a gun for an authorized employee to access in case of an emergency. They agreed this was not a discussion they wanted to have, but it needed to be addressed. Proximity to law enforcement creates added complications for Moffat.

Board member Bill Eastman said, “We’re out here 45 minutes from having somebody show up."

Food Services Director and board secretary Tina Serna asked, “Are there other means of protection? Another way to deter the person to some degree?”

Tina Eastman said, “I wouldn’t want to bring pepper spray to a gunfight.”

Discussion of other options did not ensue.

“Our safety team did go to a crisis management training this past Wednesday,” Garcia noted. “We’re trying to get those things in place, whether it’s a bomb threat or an active shooter and all the crazy things we talked about.”

Tactically, they discussed scenarios that would require different solutions, depending on the location of the conflict.

“That’s a discussion for our safety team to have. We’ve got to be on the same page,” Garcia said.

Tina Eastman reiterated, “We have not been able to get the Saguache County Sheriff’s Office to do any walk-throughs with us in the school this year for any safety planning.”

The board will conduct a working meeting at Grammy’s Kitchen on Jan. 23 to discuss superintendent evaluation and district boundary lines. With new population data, they need to refine the boundaries. The board will conduct their next regular meeting on Feb. 21, starting at 5:30 p.m.