BOARD INSIGHT: School Safety

Throughout the year, Board of Education members attend informational events related to our duties and district practices. One area of continual emphasis has been around school safety.

The Board of Education, along with dozens of other District stakeholders that include teachers, administrators, and parents, had the opportunity last summer to participate in “Active Threat Assessment Training,” presented by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) and SWAT Team. Following an in-depth presentation that addressed best practices in the event of an actual threat, the larger group was divided into smaller, classroom-sized sessions and were assigned to a trained facilitator. In those smaller groups, we rehearsed a variety of responses to active threats and practiced wound care in the event of serious injury. At the close of the training, all attendees received a tourniquet, compliments of the MCSO. While the concept of such an event occurring at PCSD is chilling, we’re grateful to have had the opportunity to enhance our level of preparedness.

In the fall, several members of the Board of Education attended a Monroe County School Board Association (MCSBA) meeting dealing exclusively with school safety. Campus Construction Management shared innovative suggestions for schools to use both their physical structures and infrastructures to “harden our buildings.” Campus Construction representatives also made us aware of safety devices currently being used in many of Monroe County’s schools.

Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter talked about the importance of having a relationship with your local sheriff’s department – which PCSD most certainly does. He stressed training and practice, reinforcing both with the message, “Your body can’t go where your mind hasn’t already been.”

Our final presenter was a local school district’s Supervisor of School Security, who shared information about his role and responsibilities in his district and offered suggestions for reevaluating some of the safety practices employed across our 19 Monroe County districts. He also shared the current New York State Education Department requirements for school safety teams and plans. 

The MCSBA has also composed a position paper to share with our local legislators regarding school safety. As an Association, we call on the New York State Legislature and Federal Government to provide supports that will help our school districts as we continue our critical work of providing safe and secure places to learn, work, and play. MCBSA further asks that any new legislation or regulation allow for local control and contain flexible funding parameters. We support federal and state research to inform best practices for school safety and security, and MCSBA members specifically ask that the costs associated with school safety and security be excluded from the NYS tax levy cap formula.

As a Board of Education, the safety of our students, staff, and community remains our top priority. We are very grateful to the many presenters who shared their knowledge and experience with us.