Montgomery County and Clarksville City Mayors pledge support for enhanced security in CMCSS elementary schools
Thanks to support from Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan and County Mayor Carolyn Bowers, CMCSS has worked out a collaborative security support plan with Clarksville City Police and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. In the plan, off-duty armed city and county law enforcement officers will be present in all elementary schools for the spring semester, beginning this month.
In response to the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, CMCSS administrators reviewed the current safety protocol and what might be done to enhance practices already in place. The most immediate response taken in December was the visibility and presence of law enforcement at elementary schools in the system.
Director of Schools Dr. B.J. Worthington said school administrators spent the days following the school tragedy meeting with law enforcement reviewing current practices and procedures and looking at what improvements could be made both in the short term and in the long term.
“There was never a question of us continuing to do business as usual, even though we have had numerous external and internal reviews of our safety procedures. What happened in Connecticut changed the world’s perspective of school safety,” Dr. Worthington said.
CMCSS will put into place off-duty officers in all elementary schools using funds reallocated from the planned purchase of GPS equipment on school buses and funds available from energy and fuel savings, as well as funds for textbooks unspent due to an unusually lower than projected student enrollment this year. However, the funding will be sustainable for a limited time, requiring other resources to fully fund the plan. The plan is only in place for the spring semester since the State General Assembly has indicated possible legislation related to school safety may be forthcoming.
Montgomery County Sheriff John Fuson emphasized: “Public safety is our number one priority and these are our children. We will certainly do what is necessary to be proactive and work to prevent a tragedy from occurring in our community.”
Montgomery County Mayor Bowers stated: “Even in tight budget times, we have to do what we know is right. This is a national issue and we need to work together to take care of our community. A collaborative effort in times like these is key to providing our students and educators with a learning environment where they can feel safe.”
Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan said: “This is a practical response to a very challenging issue. The only way we can increase safety in our elementary schools right now is to work together. I appreciate the steps that CMCSS has already taken and believe we should do everything possible to protect our children.”
Clarksville Police Chief Al Ansley added: “The Clarksville Police Department has a very positive working relationship with CMCSS and we’re proud to be a part of this program. I fully support these efforts and will do everything I can to help keep these students safe.”
The following are safety-related activities CMCSS already has in place:
• Building entry buzzer systems or building design to route visitors to office depending on building design.
• Multiple surveillance cameras at every location.
• SRO’s at each middle and high school location.
• Required safety drills including building lockdown drills are practiced at every school at a minimum of four times yearly, along with monthly fire drills.
• Emergency Response Tabletop Drills sessions providing “mock emergency scenarios” are conducted by the Risk Management / Safety Department, assisting schools to put emergency plans into action.
• School safety protocol and procedures required at every school.
• Individual School Crisis Plans. The implementation and training is ongoing for the School Crisis Plans, which are available to all local emergency response agencies.
• CMCSS Staff members have completed 650 NIMS (National Incident Management System) compliant training courses.
• Classroom Emergency Response Guides are in each classroom
• Transportation Emergency Response Guides are on each school bus and Maintenance vehicle.
• School Emergency Information for Parents & Guardians booklets has been provided.
• School Emergency Management teams are established at every location.
• A School Nurse is assigned to each location.
• District Level Emergency Response Tabletop Sessions conducted by the Risk Management / Safety Department.