Quick Solutions for Safety Issues in School

By admin

Chief Financial Officer and head of the Safety Task Force, Kevin Supple showed a presentation made up of information and recommendations from the STF to the Board of Education at the meeting on April 4. They also posted the presentation online through FHSD BoardDocs for parents and others to view. Recommendations were made regarding four areas: facilities, personnel, procedures and communications.

A specific facility recommendation pertaining to FHN was to relocate the guard shed; this was completed upon returning from spring break. According to Assistant Principal Tony Grippi, before it was easier for people to enter and exit without stopping because the guard shed was off to the side. Now in the middle it is more confined and it gives the guards more control over who comes in and leaves.

Other recommendations include hiring additional education support counselors, enforcing ID badges, and placing a poster with emergency and hotline numbers in a central location of the school, such as the cafeteria, so students are aware they can make reports from the privacy of their own home.

“We took a look at current procedures– our current procedures are very good,” Supple said. “Many of the things we are doing were the same things that are similarly in place at Sandy Hook– the front doors to our buildings are locked, the front doors to Sandy Hook were locked. So our procedures are in pretty good shape. There are some things we are going to consider doing differently, but we haven’t made any specific determinations on what we would do.”

After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Dec. 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut, FHSD came up with the idea of the STF. The main idea behind the group was to act as an additional immediate response group and to make sure that every procedure that could be in place, was in place for students and staff throughout the district.

The force held a couple meetings, one at Warren Elementary and one at Sager Middle School. Meetings involved board members, school staff and any community member that wanted to be a part and have their issues heard and addressed.

“I feel safe but not as safe as I did before all the shootings happened,” junior Annelise Arger said. “I think schools should have more protection for their staff and students because anyone can walk into a school carrying a weapon of some sort.”

Main topics of the STF meetings included emergency plans, current plans and additional school safety that could be in place.

Five year BOE Director Mike Hoehn joined the STF because of his prior knowledge with the My Strategic Committee that he serves on for the Board of Facilities and because of his involvement with the design of high schools.

“It interested me because safety is the number one priority, I think that goes without saying,” Hoehn said. “With a good report member and our administration, the student safety always ranks right up there.”

After their last meeting this year, the STF will no longer be a functioning group since they accomplished their job as an immediate safety response team. According to Supple, after the April meeting he plans on proposing that the District holds a separate work session with the Board to examine in detail the recommendations of the committee to determine what they want to implement.

With these extensive efforts, some parents believe that the District is doing the best it can to secure students’ safety.

“Of course [school safety is a concern]. But I don’t think there is a way to make the school completely safe,” Holly Gannon, mother of senior Kelly Gannon, said. “I appreciate their efforts, including guards at the entrances of the parking lot and a police officer on staff at school and the diligence of the staff at school to keep my children safe.”