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By Dan Rudy 

Schools followup on safety recommendations


Following recommendations made to the Wrangell Public School Board in April, the school district administration is pursuing a review of its current crisis response plans.

Superintendent Patrick Mayer, administrative assistant Kim Powell, and maintenance director Fred Angerman met with emergency services personnel at the Fire Hall last Thursday for the second of several planning sessions.

“We’re just collecting some baseline information,” Mayer said, something to build from at future meetings. By the end of the summer he hopes to have a comprehensive plan in place for responding to emergency situations that staff, students and parents will feel comfortable with.

The school district is gathering input from the community’s health and safety professionals. For example, Wrangell Volunteer Fire Department’s Dorianne Curley was also asked to join, having previously served on fire committees for local schools.

Jamie Roberts has served on the city’s Emergency Planning Committee for the past three years, and so was also asked to assist with the school’s planning.

“With the school plan we’re looking to completely revise it,” she said. Roberts said much of the plan was out of date, or did not take into account other services’ own plans. “It’s just due for renewal.”

Officer James Nelson is part of the process as well, having pointed out shortcomings with the schools’ current crisis plan at its April board meeting. In particular, he had problems with how it outlines lockdown procedures in the event of an emergency.

In the spring of 2014 Nelson had led school staff and faculty in emergency response training recommended by federal agencies, to form the basis of a new policy. The new approach had been implemented informally but never adopted as district policy.

At this point the process is in its preliminary stages. Roberts said they have been looking at existing plans used by other schools, such as those in Matanuska-Susitna and Petersburg.

“We really liked the content of Matsu’s,” said Mayer. Similar to the schools’ strategic planning sessions held this spring, policies have been separated into several categories for review and revision. Committees make their revisions then bring them back to future meetings to reassemble.

“We all started hammering through it,” Mayer said. “We want to have the draft done by the third week of July.”

After that it will be taken to the school’s safety committee for approval, then move on to the board for review at its August meeting. Any policy adopted as a result would be reviewed at least once a year afterward and open to public input.

“We’re just trying to be really practical about it and put it together,” he explained. “We are looking at simple but thorough.”


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