Thursday February 13, 2014
Parents may be aware of some of the recent initiatives spearheaded by the South Burlington School District to help keep children safe, but even community members who don’t have young ones enrolled in the district’s schools can feel proud of the steps taken to ensure safety is a top priority.
In his superintendent’s report at the school board meeting February 5, David Young discussed crisis planning initiatives taking place in the district. Some of the physical enhancements that have occurred over the past year include: renovating 400 Dorset Street to accommodate the facilities and security departments, additonal lighting along both Dorset Street and the west side of the middle school, and relocating the district’s security personnel to a new area on the north side of the high school/middle school campus.
In addition, school safety checklists are being completed and reviewed at each school, the district is collecting new safety audit items, evacuation sites were changed with additional locations added, and new software has been implemented for tracking safety data for the district.
Crisis response teams are in place at each school and at the district level as well. The teams meet at scheduled times throughout the school year to discuss areas of concern and conduct table-top simulations where groups are presented with a troubling situation and given 30 seconds to respond.
“The scenarios are never the same,” Young said, “They force you to think about what you would do if the person who would normally make the decision wasn’t there.” Even the Vermont State Police have been present for some of these exercises.
Another piece that has been crucial to enhancing the district’s crisis planning has been collaboration with the South Burlington Police Department. Recently, school resource officers have been leading every SBPD officer on tours of the district’s schools in order to familiarize them with the interior and exterior of each building. The goal is for every officer to know the layout of each school in order to expedite an effective response in the event of an emergency. To enhance that knowledge even further, the officers have both a digital and hard copy map of every school for reference.
The district has been working in conjunction with the SBPD to conduct training inside the schools. With February school break coming soon, the SBPD will be using the empty high school to conduct active shooter response training. The plan is to hold future trainings that include staff members as well as officers from neighboring agencies. In addition, a community forum is being planned to teach children that uniformed police officers are there to keep them and safe. The date for the forum has not yet been determined.
SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent