A small central Minnesota school district has partnered with a local business to buy $50,000 worth of bulletproof whiteboards that could be used as shields if a gunman ever attacks, the Associated Press reports.
The five-school Rocori School District, including schools in Cold Spring, plans to put the latest high-tech school safety device in each classroom and some common areas, the AP reports.
The whiteboards are made of a material that the Maryland-based manufacturer said is 2 1/2 times stronger than police-issue bulletproof vests. The 18-by-20-inch whiteboards are 4 pounds and will absorb "multiple magazines of ammunition from any handgun or shotgun without ricochet or injury," according to the manufacturer's website.
About half of the district's 170 boards, which cost about $300 each, were bought for the district by Coldspring, formerly Cold Spring Granite Co., the the AP reports. The district paid for the remainder from savings after a construction project came in under budget, the AP says.
One school security expert told the Pioneer Press that the whiteboards might offer a false sense of security, and he noted that the best thing to do is retreat from danger, not hide behind a whiteboard.
Talk of arming teachers and investing in a new array of protection devices, including bulletproof backpacks, detracts from where the focus should be – on lockdown training and other proven measures, Ken Trump, a school security consultant and president of National School Safety and Security Services, told the AP.
"People are going to radical, extreme ideas. In reality they are just short of ridiculous," he said.
Cold Spring knows well the trauma of gun violence. In 2003 at Rocori High School, a 15-year-old boy fatally shot two students, ages 14 and 17, before a teacher convinced him to put the gun down. The gunman is serving a life sentence.
George Tunis, CEO and chairman of Pocomoke City-based Hardwire, talked about how his company came to develop the whiteboards in a story picked up by USA Today.
"It's something I don't think any American can tolerate anymore, and we're in a position to do something about it," Tunis said. "I was like — all right, let's take everything we got, see what we can throw at this problem, figure out an innovative solution."