School board discusses crisis management
By Kevin Boneske
ASHWAUBENON – The topic of school safety generated a great deal of discussion at the Wednesday, April 11, Ashwaubenon school board meeting on how to deal with crisis situations.
Superintendent Brian Hanes noted the district has been holding monthly meetings with its crisis management committee, which consists of administrators from each school building as well as other school staff members and police officers in the community.
“Out of that committee comes a lot of discussion about what’s happening nationally, what’s the national data, what’s the most effective ways to react, to prevent, to respond,” Hanes said.
He said several administrators and officers have been formally trained in a system known as ALICE, which stands for Alert, Locate, Inform, Counter and Evacuate.
Hanes said the ALICE system is in place for the district to “make a quick decision, and in most cases that decision now is to get away from – know where the problem is and flee and get away from that situation.”
“It’s a little different than what’s happened in the past with some of the other training,” he said. “There have been roundtable exercises, some training for administrators, we’ve done ALICE drills, we do periodic ALICE training scenarios with the staff and staff in-service.”
Hanes said the district’s crisis plan, which is updated annually, “anticipates a variety of problems and scenarios from bomb scares to violence to you name it, and gives specific ideas on how to interact and how to react to a situation that happens.”
In the event schools would have to be evacuated, he said routes and sites on where to evacuate have been mapped out.
Hanes also noted training for a live shooter scenario is planned for all district staff in July.
Ashwaubenon Public Safety Lieutenant Scott Schermitzler, who was on hand for the discussion, said the district is fortunate to have an administration and staff who know school safety is a priority.
“We need to really push that forward and work on that as much as we can,” he said. “The school shootings that are taking place – the spree shootings in general in the United States – most of them are occurring in places just like this. They’re not the big cities. It’s places where there’s 100 officers or less in the agencies, and it’s more rural, affluent schools, which is what we are. That’s where these things are taking place.”
Schermitzler also emphasized the importance of being proactive and working as partners for school safety.
“If we don’t work as partners, then we’re going to be in trouble,” he said. “We’ve been doing that for several years. Each one of these events that take place, we continuously have to change our plan, and we have to be ready to change it at any time. We learn something from each shooting.”
Hanes noted the district has met with safety consultants from McKinstry, which is putting together a quote for what the district could spend money on to upgrade school safety.
He said the matter will be up for consideration at the board’s May 9 meeting.
After board members noted money could be spend on a variety of things to upgrade school safety, Schermitzler said individuals determined to get into a school building and hurt someone would be able to get inside no matter what physical barriers are in place to stop them.
“When you talk about building security, have some caution about spending a lot of money on that part of it,” he said. “Because if somebody doesn’t get in that window or that door, they’re going to get in that one, or they’re going to get in that one, or they’re going to get in that shop door. They’re going to get in, because these people have plans, very elaborate plans. Just by putting in some bulletproof glass or locking the doors better isn’t going to necessarily stop a threat…. Really you need people to stop people.”
The district’s buildings and grounds coordinator, Tom Schmitt, who also is on the crisis management committee, said the district presently is in good shape for school safety from a physical and mechanical standpoint.
“I think that we are in good shape, and certainly McKinstry will have some ideas on how we may improve on some of the things that we have,” Schmitt said. “But we do have a pretty solid structure in place, so we should feel comfortable with that.”