The Saratoga Springs City School District Board of Education voted Thursday not to take a position regarding the gun shows that are held four times each year at the Saratoga Springs City Center.
Nearly 100 people attended the school board meeting at the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College. A dozen spoke both in favor and against the gun shows before the vote was taken.
“My job is not to tell the City Center what to do,” said school board member Mia Pfitzer. “This is not the school board’s job to get involved with.”
She said the school board’s job is to deal with educational issues and the district budget, and to insure the safety of the students while they are in the schools.
School board member Frank Palumbo said it was his opinion the school board should be involved in what happens at the City Center and take a stand against the gun shows.
“Every time a school shooting happens, we are involved,” he said, referring to the 20 elementary school students and six adults shot and killed in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14.
“We can take a position,” Palumbo said. He said he is personally against the City Center hosting the shows held by the New Eastcoast Arms Collectors Associates.
The vote on board member Russell Danforth’s motion that the board should not create a resolution to address the City Center gun shows was approved, 7-2.
Danforth, a veteran board member, said taking a position on the gun shows is “way outside the purview of the Board of Education.”
The final motion included the amendment “at this time” added by board member Michael Ladd, who said there are still unresolved questions in his mind about the entire issue.
Palumbo and board member Chip Locke voted against the motion.
During the public hearing portion of the meeting, the Rev. Jay Ekman, senior minister of the Presbyterian-New England Congregational Church in Saratoga Springs, encouraged the school board to develop a protocol to be signed by all renters of space in the City Center.
“This protocol, in force for the entire time renters are at the Saratoga Springs City Center, shall demand civility, openness to discussion, promotional materials and websites that are nonracist, nonjingoistic, nonviolent and nonhateful,” Ekman said. He referred to the NEACA Inc. website which, in his opinion, is “beyond the pale of what I consider a benefit for healthy community and a viable democracy.”
On the other side of the issue, Wilma Koss of Saratoga Lake, said young people should be taught gun safety and respect for legal firearms.
“But a resolution to prevent a gun show from appearing in Saratoga Springs does nothing to provide a safer school environment for our students,” she said.
City school district officials said they are revising security and safety plans for every building in the district in keeping with new state guidelines. These proposed revisions are being studied by the board members, with a vote expected on them by the end of February.
The meeting started with school board President Regina Gapczynski explaining that the school board was invited to hold one of its meetings at the Tang museum by Skidmore College government professor Robert Turner.
The board accepted the invitation to be part of the “We the People” exhibit at the museum to encourage a dialogue about the Constitution and democracy.
She said this was the first time in recent history that the board has held a meeting outside of school property.
Also at the meeting, district Superintendent Michael Piccirillo recognized the members of the national champion Saratoga Springs High School varsity boys’ and girls’ cross-country teams along with their coaches, Art and Linda Kranick.