By Marcy Stamper
The Methow Valley School District is recruiting community members interested in serving on a new committee to work on emergency-response planning. The committee will be part of the district’s new Project Safe and Secure initiative, which will coordinate with school staff, first responders, students and families to ensure a safe environment for everyone at the schools.
The committee will be led by Bud Hover, the district’s director of operations, in partnership with the crisis management cooperative from the North Central Educational Service District (NCESD), which helps coordinate emergency planning and response for its 29 districts.
The committee’s charter will include:
• reviewing the district’s safety plans and training sessions.
• implementing an electronic mapping and communication system that will provide detailed information about school facilities to first responders.
• designing and implementing an annual practice schedule for staff.
• debriefing after drills and actual events to keep plans current.
• making recommendations for related facilities improvements (such as phone and entrance security systems and bus emergency kits).
Representatives from the local police and fire departments and Aero Methow Rescue Service have already indicated their intention to participate, said Tom Venable, the school district superintendent.
Launching the new committee is “timely, but not connected to any one particular event,” said Venable. The school district has been working on updating its emergency-response planning for some time and Hover has been involved in trainings since last spring. The district joined the ESD’s crisis management cooperative in the summer, said Venable.
The district is also working on using the Rapid Responder program, which provides law enforcement with detailed information about the school layout (including the location of water and power lines so that they can be turned off in an emergency).
The system, which was paid for by the state Legislature, is already in place for all schools that were built before 2015, but districts are responsible for keeping the information up to date and not all districts are using the system to its full functionality, according to David Corr, program manager of the School Safety Support Program for the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.
The Methow school district is also beginning training for a new computerized system called SafeSchools Alert, which allows anyone to anonymously and confidentially share a safety concern with school administrators. The district has purchased the software and held an initial training for staff last week.
Anyone interested in serving on the emergency-response committee should complete an application and submit it to Chris Eckstrom at the district office by Monday, Feb. 13. Applications and more information are available on the district’s website at methow.org.
For more information about the committee, contact Hover at 997-2113 or email@example.com.