A Commitment to School Safety

Safety doesn’t happen by accident.
-Author Unknown

At Pleasantdale School District 107, we have made a commitment to safer schools. As part of our Board approved Strategic Blueprint, the district convened a school safety planning task force to develop and present recommendations to the Board. This task force, comprised of teachers, parents, secretaries/staff, students, and administrators, intends to make our schools as safe as they can be. The task force needed to work quickly to develop a plan for the upcoming 2018-19 school year. With that said, the committee enlisted the help of school safety expert Paul Timm (@schoolsecurity) to set a foundational understanding of school safety/security and guide the work of the committee. The task force learned that the best way to have a secure and safe school environment was through access control (who you let into your school) and communication (how you communicate about who is in your school). The task force also instructed Mr. Timm to complete a safety audit on our schools and submit a report that would be used to make recommendations for improvements.  

The committee then considered three components when making recommendations for improvements. These components included feedback from the safety audit, our task force members’ experiences within our school, and school safety/security best practices (access control and communication). The task force then created prioritized lists of improvements and developed a three year roadmap for improvement.  This road map can be broken into three distinct phases:

  1. Year 1: Repair, Replace, and Review – Repair or replace aging safety infrastructure and ensure all safety procedures follow best practice. Additionally, modernize antiquated practices (e.g. electronic crisis plan and update parent notification systems).
  2. Year 2: Improve, Implement, and Expand – Implement additional systems and practices and expand what is working well in our schools. In year two we seek to build upon our success.
  3. Year 3: Refine, Upgrade, and Install – Dive deeper into our safety systems and structures to ensure that we have mitigated risks and finalize any remaining updates that need to be completed.

After the completion of our Year Three improvements, we will spend the year reviewing our progress and will undergo another safety audit to ensure no meaningful changes are necessary.

At the June Board of Education meeting, the Board approved the first year of the task force’s safety and security recommendations. A few of Year One improvements include video surveillance around our schools, new lockdown procedures, CPR training for all staff, and implementation of a system to send text messages parents. You can review the full three year roadmap below.  

As you can see, the Board and the district are committed to making our schools as safe as they can be for our students, staff, and visitors while at the same time respecting the fact that we want our schools to be warm and inviting places.  We are proud of the work of the task force as well as the Board for their vision and commitment to excellence.

Three year school safety/security roadmap

Year 1 (2018-19) Year 2 (2019-20) Year 3 (2020-21)
Implement a visitor management system at our schools and improved visitor management protocols Implement a bus tracking (GPS) system Upgrade doors to limit access to academic wings during off hours and weekends
Ensure all existing security cameras are functioning properly and are monitored by staff Expand the use of cameras to additional areas inside the building Expand the use of cameras to additional areas on the exterior of the building
Update all escape maps to ensure each map is labeled with routes for fire, tornado, and active shooter Implement improved teacher access to the building during off hours and weekends Additional “buzz” to gain entry into the academic area of the buildings
Update door hardware as recommended by Allegion Services Standardize door locks… Single key for a building Install vehicle barriers around areas where students are readily accessible
Stock trauma kits in each building Execute unannounced emergency drills during non-academic periods (e.g. lunch, recess, passing periods) Improve public address system at both schools
Purchase improved radios for staff and implement radio protocols throughout the district Improve exterior lighting in the parking lots
Implement improved recess supervision protocols at both schools Improve access control at large school events (e.g. “wanding” or having an off-duty police officer.)
Train staff in “lockdown with options” active shooter training Investigate the implementation of a school resource officer.
Implement a text messaging system for parents, teachers, and students to notify of emergencies Install convex mirror in locker bank at PMS.
Implement an electronic crisis manual
Label all telephones with emergency dialing instructions
Requirement that exterior doors must remain closed and locked at all times
Train all staff in CPR, First Aid, use of AED
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