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Security team has ideas

Group to make recommendations for school safety

Group to make recommendations for school safety

November 16, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - The second meeting of the school security cross-functional team Wednesday produced initiatives and action steps that could be implemented in the county's public schools.

The group of about 50, including parents, law enforcement officials, community security experts and Washington County Public Schools personnel, met for the first time earlier this month. The group has been asked to brainstorm ways to improve safety at the county's schools and prioritize security needs.

The group focused Wednesday on school system staff training, emergency response, after-hour activities at schools, school security policies and violence prevention.

"There were a lot of topics covered, and a lot of issues and ideas," said Gary Nally, chair of the county's Citizens Advisory Council. "I think this can only help improve our school safety and security."

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Participants mostly agreed that policies should be uniform for the school system, and not up to each individual school's leadership to develop security and safety plans. Task force members also said they would like for personnel training to be consistent, and for everyone from teachers to bus drivers be given a role in safety and security.

Nancy Souders, a teacher, said staff should be trained not only to handle potential threats from people coming into schools, but also on how to identify problems within the student population and stop them before they escalate.

"It's so important to take time to find out (what is going on with students)," she said. "You can defuse so many problems that way."

Steven L. Ganley, safety/security and risk manager for the school system, said he would like to see the emergency procedure manual simplified.

Issues were addressed about the safety of portable classrooms, and also the security problems presented by open schools, which have few classroom walls.

Officials said they planned to have a third meeting of the task force, but a date had not been set. Ganley said officials would take the initiatives and action steps brainstormed Wednesday and analyze the data presented by the task force. Recommendations eventually could be made to the Board of Education and become common practice throughout the school system.

"We need to take (this information) and work to come up with a game plan," Ganley said.

Here are some of the initiatives and plans established by the school security cross-functional team:

· Develop master security plan and template

· Do a vulnerability assessment

· Re-evaluate all aspects of current plan

· Seek funding for start up

· Standardized training

· Establish standardized protocol

· Standardize security with portable classrooms

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