State officials have not blocked the plan, even though Arkansas Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell has said that he opposes arming teachers and staff. Instead, he supports hiring law enforcement officers as school resource officers.
Participating staff in Clarksville’s schools will be given a one-time $1,100 stipend to purchase a handgun and holster. The district will pay about $50,000 for ammunition and for training by Nighthawk Custom Training Academy, a private training facility in northwest Arkansas.
“That teacher is going to respond to one thing and one thing alone, and that's someone is in the building either actively or attempting to kill people," Jon Hodoway, director of training for Nighthawk said. "That's it. They're not going to enforce the law. They're not going to make traffic stops. If somebody is outside acting the fool, they're going to call the police."
At a recent training session teachers and administrators practiced using airsoft pellet guns to shoot a student pretending to hold another at gunpoint.
One of the student simulators, Sydney Whitkanack, said she’s not concerned about having teachers or staff armed.
"If they're concealed, then it's no big deal," she said. “It's not like someone's going to know, 'Oh, they have a firearm.' "
Others, like former president of the Arkansas Education Association Donna Morey, strongly opposed the plan, citing concerns over a student accidentally getting shot or taking a gun.