Our View: Handle school security internally | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Handle school security internally

The Education Fund Board should reject an upcoming request for $30,000 to pay for a school security project manager.

At first glance, it seems hard to oppose spending for school security. Few things, if any, are more important than the safety of our children and staff in local schools – the horrors of school tragedies have been seen over and over again in recent years, in Colorado and across the nation. Such a tragedy in Routt County is beyond imagining.

This is all the more reason for school administrators and staff to create emergency information guides internally, rather than with a newly hired, short-term, $30,000 project manager requested by the School Safety and Security Task Force. Such an expenditure not only takes valuable, hands-on work out of the hands of school staff, but also represents an excessive expense in an economic time that demands new saving habits and a focus on where every dollar will do the most good.

We think the $30,000 proposed to the Fund Board, which administers the city’s half-cent sales tax for education, will do the most good when spent on students in the classroom – giving attention and education that can help pre-emptively prevent the kind of tragedy our administrators and law enforcement rightly are working so hard to combat.

The task force has been meeting at least monthly since June. It includes representatives from local public and private schools – including Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus and some local preschools – along with local law enforcement and emergency management agencies.

The group was formed to meet the requirements of Colorado Senate Resolution 181, which requires emergency management plans for all public schools in the state.

The Task Force and Routt County Emergency Management Director Chuck Vale deserve kudos for extending those plans to nearly all school facilities in Routt County, and for undertaking the task well ahead of many Colorado school districts.

“I am proud as I can be that all the educational facilities in this county are in the same room talking to each other,” Vale said Tuesday.

Vale said that although each school in the county has emergency plans today, those plans are not “complete enough and complex enough to meet the all-hazard environment,” which encompasses any and all catastrophes that could occur at a school facility.

The project manager, according to Vale and South Routt School Board President Tim Corrigan, would create emergency information guides tailored to each school – covering facilities that range from a small schoolhouse in North Routt to CMC’s Steamboat campus – but using universal, standardized notation for quick use by first responders to any situation.

Corrigan said he and School Board presidents in Steamboat and South Routt initially intended to create the guides internally, but soon “realized how much information needed to be assembled,” leading to the request for a project manager who would take on the project during a six-month period.

We understand that school administrators and staff are incredibly busy. But this is a project that should not be siphoned off to a costly, short-term project manager. Reviewing, compiling and standardizing emergency plans should be at the top of the “to do” list for every school administrator in the county.

The right way to finish the job is to use existing resources and signal to the community that tight budgets do not mean important tasks cannot be done.

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