Board of Education discusses school safety, climate
During the presentation, officials listed a number of accomplishments and goals they said are a result of ongoing team efforts toward safer schools and a better school climate.
Some of the accomplishments she and Saxe Middle School Assistant Principal Steven Clapp mentioned at the meeting include recent school fire and lockdown drills with first-responders, the hiring of campus monitors at the middle and elementary schools, the addition of a school resource officer at Saxe and emergency trainings with administrators.
Future goals include adding campus monitors at the high school, enhancing fire and lockdown drills, and hosting emergency trainings for all faculty.
"We want people to really think on their feet, because if we did have a true emergency situation, that's what you have to do and you have to practice to do that," Rocco said. "We want them to think through some of these situations and what their responses will be."
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She also noted that the board has other accomplishments and goals that cannot be publicized for security reasons. "A lot of what we've done is not really public information," she said.
For this same reason, Clapp said, it is difficult to obtain information from other school districts on what safety initiatives they have implemented.
"School districts don't publish their practices," he said. "There's not a lot of research out there we can turn to, so we turn to our experts and we turn to police and fire (officials)."
The 24-member Crisis Advisory Board, which was established in 2000, meets every month to determine procedures for the schools in the event of crises. In addition to Clapp and Rocco, the group includes representatives from all five schools, central office administrators, emergency responders and other town leaders.
As for school climate, special education social worker Nora Daly told the board that one of the district's upcoming initiatives is a state-mandated school climate assessment. Through the survey, which is expected to be conducted in November, students will anonymously answer questions and share opinions about their school's climate.
Daly, who's also the district's prevention and intervention facilitator, said students would be involved in the preparation of the assessment and an action plan following the process.
School climate, she explained, involves the quality of school life, parents' and school personnel's experience of school life, goals, values, relationships, teaching practices and organizational structures. Issues that negatively affect school climate include bullying, sexual assault and dating violence.
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