Archive for Thursday, October 12, 2006

School safety is discussed

October 12, 2006

The recent string of school shootings across the country has the Baldwin School District revisiting its crisis plans in case of an emergency.

School safety has become a hot topic around the country and Supt. Paul Dorathy is fully aware of it.

"I know in the last week, the school shootings around the country have raised everyone's awareness," Dorathy said. "We are aware of that concern and we are looking at how to address those."

The Baldwin Board of Education discussed school security at its meeting Monday night. The board talked about the school's crisis plans, emergency plans and how to lock down the schools.

"I don't think we are overreacting, but we need to be as prepared as we can," Board Member Ande Parks said.

Dorathy did say every school has a crisis plan and the administrative team went over those in August.

"I think the board discussed a lot of different things that they would like to see us work on," Dorathy said. "Each of the buildings has their crisis plans and we would like to check that we are in place with those."

Deb Ehling-Gwin, Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center principal, was at the meeting Monday. She said every teacher has a crisis plan in their rooms and there is one in her office and on the bulletin board in the main office.

Early in Monday's meeting, Baldwin City Police Chief Mike McKenna spoke about school safety. School Resource Officer Kim Judy came to the meeting with McKenna.

"I believe in the theory that when you have a rash like the recent school shootings, the likelihood of another one happening increases," McKenna said. "That's why we have come here tonight to urge you as officials to assemble a crisis response plan to help us as emergency personnel in responding, should such an incident occur here in Baldwin City."

McKenna suggested that each school have a crisis response box that includes many things, such as an up-to-date layout of the buildings, list of employees, phone numbers of key staff members and emergency responders, evacuation routes and turn-off procedures for fire alarms, sprinklers, ventilation systems and utilities.

"Chief McKenna gave us some suggestions, as far as making sure that people know how to shut off the circulation system immediately" Dorathy said. "He came up with some good ideas that I think we are going to take a look at."

Baldwin High School Principal Shaun Moseman said his school has been working on improving its crisis plan.

"We are working on that," Moseman said. "We do have a crisis plan for bomb threats, medical emergency, tornado, fire evacuation and unwanted intruders. We are going to have to tighten up the building.

"One thing we are going to have to figure out is do we lock classrooms during classes," Moseman said. "What doors to the school do we leave open and which ones do we lock. We are looking at camera systems inside and outside. We are looking at sending some people to some training sessions about security."

However, he did say the security team at BHS is making sure it reviews as much as it can before taking any steps.

"We are trying to figure out all of the different angles of this before we start making decisions on what we are going to do," Moseman said. "We've had security meetings about making this a safer place."

The best way to be prepared for a crisis is to be involved, according to Dorathy.

"The best prevention is to be pro-active," Dorathy said. "One, I think you need to jump in there and try and take some of these steps to prepare for that. Two, I think you need to continue to work with students, parents and the community. I think the best thing is to be pro-active with the amount of security that we can afford."

McKenna agreed about the best way to prevent a crisis.

"I believe the best preparation is a well-trained and highly-alert staff and student body," McKenna said. "However, in the case of a roaming monster walking around a school, we have to be realistic. There are some incidents that we can't prevent, but we can be prepared to minimize the damage."

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