Each month, Dr. Zorn reaches out to our business community via the Kelso Longview Chamber of Commerce newsletter with information about the successes and challenges of our public schools.
Longview Schools have a tradition of working each day to ensure the safety of our students and staff members and the security of our public buildings.
While we know that no action or plan is perfect, we continue to maintain current systems and develop additional measures and enhancements to control what we can.
At least once a month, our students practice an emergency response falling into three categories:
- Shelter-in-place to respond to something such as a nearby chemical release;
- Lockdown to respond to an active threat of violence.
- Evacuation to move students away from a hazard such as fire or flooding.
In addition, our schools—along with others in the county and across the nation—have adopted the ALICE response to threats of violence. ALICE is a way to remember the essential actions that are possible when faced by a violent threat. It stands for Alert (let others nearby know what is happening), Lockdown (lock and barricade the entrance), Inform (call 911), Counter (confuse the threat with chaos and distractions), and Evacuate. These actions need not be taken in any particular order.
Furthermore, our schools cultivate a climate of trust and empower students and staff members to speak up if they have a concern or see something that makes them suspicious. We work on creating schools where everyone treats others with respect.
We continually explore ways to update our actions and systems. Schools have reduced the number of entry points into each building, all schools have cameras and monitors at the front door entrances, classroom doors can now be easily locked from inside the classroom, and shrubbery has been trimmed to assure sightlines into our schools. We are focused on continuing improvements to our facilities that will protect the safety and security of our students and staff.
The unsuccessful November 2017 building bond included $2.75 million for safety and security improvements including security cameras, door locks, emergency radios, and lighting.
In February, voters approved a local Replacement Capital Projects Levy–a portion of which can be used for safety and security upgrades.
As the Board of Directors drafts a 2019 bond, security improvements will be once again be considered. We would love to hear from a variety of voices as the bond request is being formulated and as we allocate local Capital Projects dollars to matters of safety and security.
Toward that end we are asking folks to take a few moments to share their perspectives in an on-line “conversation.” Comments are taken as part of our Thoughtexchange process which can be accessed 24/7 between June 4 and June 14. In addition to providing comments, participants can review and react to others’ ideas. Based on this participation, the major issues brought forward will rise to the top.
The information gathered in this Thoughtexchange will help the district as it constantly works to keep students and staff members safe and to best respond when school safety is threatened.