*An earlier version of this story misspelled Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Jolene Yoakum's name. This story also has been updated with board members' reasons for voting against the revised gun policy.
COLUMBIA — The Columbia Board of Education narrowly defeated a policy change that would allow two district officials to carry a concealed firearm on school grounds.
The policy change would have allowed the district’s director and assistant director of security to carry guns if they met certain qualifications. Board members Christine King, Jan Mees and Helen Wade voted yes on the change.
“From a logical standpoint, it was reasonable to me,” Wade said after the meeting.
Darin Preis, Tom Rose, Jonathan Sessions and Jim Whitt voted against the change.
Rose said before the vote that he thought the change would do little to prevent violence. A more effective strategy, he said, would be to provide "necessary educational, social and mental health support" to prevent someone from becoming violent in the first place.
Preis offered a similar explanation for his no vote.
"I did feel like (the policy change) was reactionary and wouldn't really amount to any real safety increase," Preis said after the vote. "I would rather spend my energy thinking about how to prevent violence in our schools."
The board also unanimously approved two measures that would affect Douglass High School, the first being a consulting contract with Byndom, Stanton and Associates to help find ways to place students in internships and jobs with local businesses.
Superintendent Chris Belcher told the board at the Monday night meeting that Columbia Public Schools has also been discussing this goal with Regional Economic Development Inc. The goal is to help more Douglass students find their place in the workforce after graduation, Belcher said.
“It’s probably going to cause Douglass to become a satellite career center,” Belcher told the board.
The board also approved an application for a $1.2 million federal school improvement grant for Douglass that would be administered by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Board member Darin Preis praised the grant application for its writing and research.
According to the U.S. Department of Education’s webpage on the school improvement grants, the money is intended to help school districts reduce dropout rates at low-performing schools.
*Jolene Yoakum, assistant superintendent for secondary education, said the grant application is due Friday, and the state Education Department has until July 1 to approve it.
The board also heard updates on the district's technology plan and the English Language Learners program.
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