ATLANTA - There's a tendency in the Republican-controlled state legislature to give Georgia's 180 local school districts as much autonomy as possible, especially not to order them to do something without helping them pay at least part of the cost.

SPECIAL COVERAGE| Protecting against carbon monoxide

That trend is at the heart of the debate about whether Carbon Monoxide detectors should be required in Georgia schools.

The debate has been sparked by Monday's near tragedy when 40 students and 10 adults from Atlanta's Finch Elementary School were rushed to hospitals following a potentially deadly Carbon Monoxide leak from a faulty boiler.

Fortunately, nearly all were quickly treated and released in good condition.

Only two states, Maryland and Connecticut, require detectors in schools.

On Wednesday, we found and asked some of the state's top leaders whether they favored making them mandatory here.

"I would prefer us to be able to do it in a more flexible fashion because we do know that there are new technologies that may come along, but it is something that we are looking at seriously," Governor Nathan Deal told 11 Alive.

When asked if the cost of installing them is outweighed by the possibility of saving lives, the Governor said, "Certainly the cost should not be a deterrent in something that is of importance to the safety of children."

11 Alive also found and interviewed the two lawmakers whose committees might have to approve any new law.

"You don't need a knee jerk reaction, you know; we tend to mandate things a lot of times when we may already have a policy or rule," said Rep. Brooks Coleman (R-Duluth), Chairman of the House Education Committee.

When asked if CO detectors couldn't be added to the list of other safety measures required in schools, such as fire alarms, Coleman said, "It could be and there's a possibility; that's why we want to look at it."

Coleman, who spent more than three decades with Gwinnett County's School system, wants to hear testimony from technical experts and school systems before making up his mind.

State Senator Fran Millar (R-Atlanta), Chairman of the Senate Education and Youth Committee, tends to think local school districts should make the decision.

"Local systems probably know their facilities better than we in Atlanta are going to know them, plus they're gonna end up paying for it, so I don't think you probably need a state law for this," he told 11 Alive.

State School Superintendent John Barge said a requirement is still possible without legislation.

"It could be placed into law or it could simply be handled through board policy, state board policy through our facilities division," he added.

While opinions vary on how to deal with the threat, this week's frightening episode at Finch Elementary certainly got everyone's attention about the need for detectors.

In fact, several Georgia school systems, including Atlanta's, are already moving toward to installing their own without waiting for state lawmakers.

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