Partnerships with the community are key to student safety, and the Grandview School District, according to Assistant Superintendent Ann Marie Cook, has a great relationship with the Grandview Police Department. Recently, as part of PREP-KC’s career day activities, Grandview Police Officer Monica Romero talked with students at Martin City Elementary School.
by Mary Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org
With the tragedies in Parkland, Florida, still fresh in the minds of community members, administration from the Grandview School District provided a timely discussion to the Board of Education regarding safety in schools during their regular meeting on Thursday, February 22.
According to Assistant Superintendent of Operations and Finance Ann Marie Cook, the district is still working to utilize bond funding to complete safety enhancement upgrades throughout the district. In the last two years, there have been parking lot improvements and fire alarm system upgrades.
“We have Martin City slated for this summer, which will be the final upgrade or replacement of all the fire alarm systems,” said Cook. “This has been a multi-year project that includes camera systems and intercom upgrades. We’ve done a lot, but we still need to do a lot of things as it relates to safety.”
Over the last year or so, the district has maintained a focus on student reporting, and has implemented security scans and completed staff, student and parent surveys regarding safety.
“Probably the thing I’m most excited about is that the safety committee has really evolved over the years,” said Cook. “It was focused more on doing walkabouts to make sure we didn’t have slip trip hazards and those sort of things, and it really has changed in where we are focusing our efforts. It is now much broader.”
The district is currently in the process of reframing the safety committee, creating what they refer to as “safety silos,” which include physical safety, student safety and staff safety. While there may be some overlap, according to Cook, the intent and desire is to share ideas and implement programs that will ensure safety while students and staff are in the district’s buildings.
“I think this will provide us an opportunity to dig a little deeper and improve some of our practices,” said Cook. “I think we’ve made a lot of improvements over the last several years, but there’s always more that we can and should be doing.”
The district has a strong partnership with the Grandview Police Department and the Grandview Fire Department, which are both part of the district’s safety meetings and conduct various trainings throughout the year. Every year during spring break, Grandview Fire Marshal Lew Austin does a walk-through in all school buildings to ensure their safety.
“We are extremely fortunate to have those partnerships because they help us create and keep a safe environment for our staff and our kiddos,” said Cook.
Grandview also continues to work on updating its crisis plans, looking for consistency and alignment with safety standards. While physical safety is important, the district continues to look for ways to increase the feeling of safety for students and staff in the buildings.
“Student reporting is critical in helping minimize or eliminate threats to the schools and other students,” said Cook.
Since becoming superintendent, Dr. Kenny Rodrequez has worked to implement a change in the way staff thinks about safety.
“As superintendent, I’m taking matters of student safety very seriously,” said Rodrequez. “I think we pushed the envelope quite a bit over the last year with things that we’re doing. I’m not a big fan of us constantly having to be reactive. I want to be as proactive as possible. We can’t resolve everything and we can’t stop everything; however, there are a lot of things that we can prevent.”
While he says that the district is on a good path, Rodrequez added that the district isn’t anywhere near where they should be. In a conference he recently attended, safety was a widely-discussed topic. One session focused on the importance of a relationship with the first responders in the community, which Rodrequez said is strong in Grandview.
“I’m very proud of the work that we have done,” said Rodrequez. “We will continue to do everything we can to make sure everyone is as safe as possible.”