November 16, 2018: School Safety

Hello, Black River Falls Community! This is Dr. Shelly Severson, Superintendent of the School District of Black River Falls, and I’m here to share this week’s Spotlight on Schools. This week I’d like to give you an update regarding School Safety. If you watch any news at all you’ve certainly heard an awful lot about school safety in recent weeks and months. Perhaps you recall last spring when the state of Wisconsin decided to put funds into a new division of the Department of Justice, it is called the Office of School Safety. This new division is the agency that has awarded two separate rounds of school safety grants and our District has been aggressive about applying for and securing funds to increase our school safety.

The School District of Black River Falls is receiving $174,000 in funds to make improvements to our safety. We started off in a good spot as our last referendum had already created secure entrances in each of our buildings. Some districts are having to spend their grant funds on this alone; we are excited to get to take the next steps.

Here is just a sampling of some of the things we are going to expend our grant dollars on:

The first is a glass hardening film that will be added to the windows and doors in each of the entryways. The film goes on over the glass and is definitely NOT bulletproof, but it does slow down a potential intruder. The glass cracks and shatters slower which gives critical seconds for law enforcement to arrive! Another significant improvement is the addition of security cameras and the increase in quality to some of our current cameras. We will also upgrade the public address systems in the buildings to ensure all areas of the building can hear announcements at all times.

Another upgrade is to digitize our school safety plan so that law enforcement agencies and all staff members have, at their fingertips, the most up to date information, interactive maps and class lists, etc. We have also purchased lockdown shades for the doors and windows at Red Creek; while we love the natural light for instruction, we know that we have to be able to shut off the classrooms should an emergency arise. In addition, we have purchased escape ladders for those classrooms at the middle school and Red Creek that are on the second floor.

As we talk about safety, we also remember that our schools serve many different groups within the community. We have purchased additional Automatic External Defibrillators and public first aid kits that will be posted in the hallways for use when the public is using the buildings. The second round of grants also places a high priority on staff training opportunities. We have a team of staff that will attend a Department of Justice Threat Assessment Team Training along with Captain Olson of Jackson County Sheriff’s Department. We will provide Adolescent Mental Health First Aid Training, along with many different topics aimed at creating a positive climate and increasing the ability of staff to be able to meet the needs of our students that have experienced significant trauma.

This past week we hosted a School Safety Forum in which we invited all families to come and learn more about our school safety plan, the decision making and communication process should a crisis situation occur, as well as the opportunity to ask administration and law enforcement any questions that they may have. While our audience was extremely small, they were sincere in their interest in understanding what happens when we find ourselves in challenging situations. Of course, we wish that we would have packed the auditorium as people typically have the most questions when we are in the middle of an incident, and that is not the time to get them answered.

I’d like to finish this week as I typically do, sharing some positive feedback from a Red Creek parent; “Mrs. Bluedorn has been an amazing inspiration for my daughter. She has high expectations and helps her students reach them. We love her!”

As always, if you have any questions about this, or anything else within the District, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Let’s show our Tiger Pride in all that we do!
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