BOE Meeting: District Safety Workshop – July 28, 2022

SSCSD Board of Education Meeting Notes (SEEN)
District Safety Workshop
July 28, 2022 @ 5:30pm
Notes by Rebecca Lynch
Read the Meeting Agenda.

Community Members Present: Erin Leary, Rebecca Lynch, Lara Watro, Jennifer Taylor, Jessica Todtenhagen

Presentation by DERT (District Emergency Response Team)

  • DERT Teams – Incident Command, Operations, Planning, Logistics, Finance/Administration
  • In addition to DERT, each building has a BERT (Building Emergency Response Team).
    • DERT supports the building level teams in emergencies or drills, as requested, and is a resource for all buildings
  • Prevention and Proactive Measures – creating a healthy school community
    • Social-emotional support network, community and school mental health partnerships, schoolwide presentation, supporting students every day, professional development
    • See Something/Say Something. Safe Schools Helpline (also an app), threat assessment recognition and training, SEL curriculum (i.e., Second Step), Fire and Emergency Drills
  • Legacy Project and Facilities Funded Safety Improvements
    • Secure vestibules with dividers
    • New districtwide video-surveillance system with high-resolution cameras in key areas
    • Raptor Visitor Management System
    • Classroom visibility film for lockdowns to create shaded areas
    • Internal and external warning devices for lockdown signaling
  • Alyssa’s Law – signed by Governor Hochul in June 
    • Districts need to consider installing silent panic alarms
    • We are working with vendors to find the best solution
  • SSCSD Security Assessment done by NYSIR in ’18-‘19
    • Working to start a new assessment this school year
    • Evaluates 15 areas of vulnerability
    • Saratoga is at the forefront for school safety compared to other districts in our region
  • Role of the SRO (Glenn Barrett)
    • Fostering relationships with students and the community
    • To be visible and patrol buildings and campus
    • Acts as a mentor to students and works together with school staff, finds it very personally rewarding
  • DERT Community Outreach
    • Presentations on safety for community groups and annual BOE Safety Presentation

Questions from Board Members

  • CW: What is the context for Alyssa’s Law? 
    • A: It was named after a student killed in Parkland. The thought was that if help had arrived sooner, she (and other students) might have survived.
  • CW: What is the response time for law enforcement to get to a building? 
    • A: The nationwide average is 3 minutes. For Saratoga, it depends on numerous factors, including the location of the building, the time of day, availability of officers, and where they are located when the call comes in. 
  • NL: Regarding mental health professionals, why does Caroline not have the same number of social workers as the other elementary schools? 
    • A: There is less of a need there. If that changes, they would reassess.
  • NL: Are the drills we do required by the state? 
    • A: Yes, but we also do more than what is required. 
  • JE: What is the response time for the EMT/Fire department? 
    • A: It’s the same as for law enforcement, it varies based on availability and what the scenario is.
  • DK: He feels fortunate to be part of DERT and loves hearing that we have social workers and psychologists, and that we are a leader. In terms of SROs, what is the impediment to having a uniformed officer in each building? 
    • A: It is the cost, and also what the role and need is at the elementary schools. The elementary building principals have said that there isn’t a need to have a full time SRO at their building. Most districts don’t have an SRO in every building. Shen has 3 SROs total for the district, and BH-BL has 1 total for the district. 
  • DK: Let’s continue to be a leader and continue having this conversation to have an SRO in every building.
    • MP: We’re lucky to have SROs from 2 agencies (PD and Sheriff) and that strengthens our program. We always invite officers to stop into the buildings when they can. The principals aren’t looking for a full-time SRO and would rather have periodic check-ins and visits. Grounds Monitors are also available to help when needed. 
  • Amanda: How many threats did we have this year, and how did that compare to previous years? 
    • MP: We’ve had less than 5 this year. It’s more than previous year, which is the trend all over. We are moving away from threat assessment and going more toward behavioral intervention and prevention. 
  • Amanda: Have the faculty and staff been surveyed regarding SROs to see if they feel like they would be safe and supported in a shooter situation? 
    • MP: No, we have not done that.
  • CW: If a student submits something through the SafeSchools app, how quick is the response time? 
    • A: If it’s life-threatening, it would be immediate. 
  • CW: Why are the license plate readers only at the MS and HS? The elementary schools are vulnerable and have nothing. 
    • A: All buildings are getting better cameras which would be able to see license plates when necessary. 
  • Jim Montagnino: Regarding SROs at the elementary schools, if the board wants to have that conversation, he would love to. The city is ready and willing to do that. Cost would be a question, but if the board is interested, we could try to work it out. 

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