Safety is Job One
By Superintendent Wayne Weber
I've had a number of conversations recently with people inquiring about our District's safety measures and emergency preparedness. The inquiries didn't come as a surprise in light of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting. When events such as this take place, the issue of school safety is brought to the forefront of everyone's mind. While teaching and learning are at the core of our mission, student safety is our most eminent concern each and every day, not just in the wake of incidents like that which occurred in Florida. I approach the responsibility of student safety as a superintendent and as a father. I have three children who attend Rosendale-Brandon, and I view all our students through the lens of a parent, and I know my colleagues in the District feel the same.
We do a variety of things to help ensure that our schools and children remain safe. Over recent years the District has spent considerable time and effort planning and practicing safety and security measures appropriate for dealing with a variety of incidents. Entry into and exit from our schools has been restricted. This includes greater security measures regarding access to our buildings in the evening as well. Staff members wear picture identification badges. Parents and others coming into our schools must stop the main office and receive identification badges. All adults who work with our students are required have background checks.
Each school has a crisis response plan and key school personnel are part of a response team. Staff review different scenarios and the response called for in those scenarios. In general, each safety plan involves the designation of a crisis response team; development of evacuation, shelter in place, and lockdown procedures; maintenance of portable critical response kits that contain key information and supplies; designation of one or more evacuation sites; and resources for external assistance before, during, and after an event. Fire drills are conducted monthly and both severe weather and lockdown drills are conducted semi-annually at a minimum.
School safety is a responsibility that requires ongoing attention, practice, and improvement. So although we feel we have a solid plan, we also find ourselves constantly identifying areas of improvement and refining our procedures to be more vigilant, more efficient, and more prepared. At times adjustments we make to improve the safety and security of our facilities may frustrate parents and community members because of a perceived inconvenience. An example of this is the procedure we require for outside individuals to have access to our buildings both during the school day and after school. Both limiting and tracking access increase the security of our facilities and the safety of our students.
Ensuring the safety of our students takes a group effort. We can all do our part by following established rules and procedures and being aware of our school surroundings. If any suspicious activity or areas of concern are observed they should be reported to school personnel immediately.
As a superintendent, and as a parent, I hope this addresses any questions you may have about the safety of our children. If not, please do not hesitate to contact me.