The recent tragedy in Florida has rekindled the national debate on gun laws and school safety. In 2013, following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Thompson Falls School District’s School Board and administration established school safety as our number one goal and declared the environment our top priority. I would like to share some actions taken by the District since that time, as well as some thoughts about school safety and security. Following are a few items made possible with input from Thompson Falls School District staff, law enforcement, emergency services, and professional state organizations since 2013.
- Added a School Resource Officer, S.R.O., made possible due to a joint effort between the District, Frisbie-Morbella foundation, and City.
- Formed school crisis teams for each campus that review safety procedures.
- Provide annual C.P.R./ First Aid training to staff each fall.
- Installed security cameras that cover every entry and exit to the school and the main corridors of the high school and junior high.
- Installed cameras in all buses.
- Updated emergency response bags in classrooms to include defensive spray.
- Additional lighting installed on each campus.
- Installed mirrors in key locations for increased field of view.
- Installed darkening shades in elementary classrooms.
- Numbered all classrooms and posted emergency evacuation plans.
- Reduced the number of unlocked doors in schools.
- Upgraded Student Information System (S.I.S.), to allow broad messaging through multiple platforms, (text, e-mail, and phone).
- Provided two-way radios to all staff members.
- Upgraded the phone system to allow emergency announcements in each room.
The safety and well-being of the people in our schools and community is everyone’s responsibility. This is our town, our school, and these are our challenges. School and community safety is a multifaceted issue that presents a variety of challenges including mental health, staff training, law enforcement, facility improvements, and emergency response personnel. Our greatest resource is the people in our school and community that work together to find solutions and be positive. I am thankful to all those who dedicate their time and talents to public service. Many opportunities exist in Thompson Falls including; ambulance, fire fighters, and search and rescue. The schools are fortunate to have access to support personnel onsite including administrators, school counselors, CSCT therapists, school psychologist and an S.R.O.
I encourage people to report potential concerns or suspicious behaviors to law enforcement and school officials. Information that is received is investigated in a professional manner. If you have an idea about school safety you would like to share please contact our school administration and/or S.R.O. The District will continue to work on school safety and providing a great environment for our students.
Mr. Jason J. Slater
Thompson Falls School District