Arlington schools get $65,000 in safety grants
August 28, 2008 · Updated 5:00 PM
ARLINGTON Arlington schools have received more than $65,000 in grants to make themselves and their surrounding community safer.
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction awarded the Arlington School District two grants, one to Haller Middle School specifically, to meet enhanced school safety planning, training and emergency drill requirements.
Last year, the state legislature passed State Senate Bill 5097, which requires additional emergency drills, safety-related training, annual reporting and increasingly comprehensive school safety plans.
Haller's $5,000 emergency mini-drill grant will help fund planning and implementation of the school's drills and staff training, as well as the purchases of school safety supplies.
"Haller's a newer school, so we're at ground zero for building safety plans," said Alan Boatman, assistant principal for Haller Middle School.
Boatman cited search and rescue and building damage assessment as among the staff training subjects. He also noted the number of supplies that would be included in each classroom's emergency supplies kit, including duct tape, gloves, flashlights, batteries, blankets, sanitizer, biohazard bags and toiletries.
"The kits will be stored in red backpacks, to make them portable," Boatman said. "They'll also include first-aid kits. We must be prepared for the possibility that we might not be able to leave the building. We'll also have cases of water in every classroom. Without this grant, there's no way we'd be able to outfit all of our classrooms at Haller."
Boatman went on to commend the coordination of plans between the school district, the city of Arlington and the Cascade Valley Hospital and Clinics.
"When we work as a team, it can only be positive for everyone," Boatman said. "There's no question that an impact on any one of us whether it's the schools, the city or the hospital would also impact the other two. We would each face unique challenges, but we also each boast unique resources. By understanding one another's procedures, we can come together more effectively."
To that end, the Arlington School District is one of seven in the state to receive a comprehensive safe schools grant. The grant amount of more than $60,000 will fund an update of the school district's plans, and allow the district to integrate the four phases of its emergency response planning mitigation and prevention, preparedness, response and recovery into their comprehensive plan.
Arlington School District Superintendent Linda Byrnes explained that the grant will help the school district coordinate updates of both its district-wide and school-based plans with its "community partners" in the city and the hospital.
"That will effectively ensure the safety and security of the entire school community, including faculty and other staff members, students and visitors, as well as maintain the continuity of daily business operations in the face of natural and man-made disasters and other emergencies," Byrnes said. "Staff members and students will see an increase in drills required by each school, due to the recent passage of the SSB 5097, but over the next 18 months, they will become more familiar, as practice of the drills becomes second nature."
The comprehensive grant also allows the district to purchase a second installment of security cameras for Arlington High School, as part of a six-phase project to attain total campus coverage. Each wave of cameras is being purchased as money becomes available.
Chris Badger, the Arlington community emergency management coordinator, reminded community members that the comprehensive school safety and crisis plan will be updated this summer, and requested input from "a variety of sources" within the community.
"Planning is a community effort and should not be done in a vacuum," Badger said. "Communication to parents over the next 18 months regarding emergency processes and procedures will increase, as we complete the planning process and move into the testing phase, at which point we anticipate asking parents to participate with us on functional drills as we test certain parts of our plans, like parent-student reunification procedures."