SAFETY IN schools is of paramount importance. That point was emphatically reinforced this past December in the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
School officials across the country have revisited their security programs since that fateful day. The Ohio Valley has seen many local districts beef up safety measures, several realizing the need and benefits of a resource officer. Bridgeport and Buckeye Local, in fact, are seeking levy approval to fund such a position.
The St. Clairsville School District is proactive with its safety system. That point came to light at Monday's St. Clairsville City Council meeting.
St. C. School Resource Officer Jeff Gazdik presented city officials with an overview on safety improvements within the district. He presented an updated emergency management plan, noting the improvements were a result of two years of planning. It was put in place prior to the Connecticut shooting.
St. C. safety game plan features a wide variety of disasters and responses in and around the school, including evacuation plans. Gazdik also notes a quick communications system is in place. It has proven a model for other school districts, as many have contacted St. C. schools for input.
Two other important pieces play into the St. Clairsville safety plan.
One is a $90,000 Homeland Security funded program to provide extensive blueprints of all Belmont County schools for the use of law enforcement and first responders in the event of an emergency. Secondly, a city safety committee, composed of school officials and emergency responders, meets monthly. We view that as a great way to get all those involved on the same page.
Gazdik, meanwhile, has also taken an extra safety step by guiding law enforcement officers from diverse agencies on tours of the school buildings. Such a move may pay dividends in time of emergencies.
It's safe to say St. Clairsville school officials place a premium on the well-being of their students and staff.