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Bedford School Safety Committee Outlines New Strategies

On Thursday, the Bedford Central School District issued a statement on recent decisions made by the district's safety committee.
On Thursday, the Bedford Central School District issued a statement on recent decisions made by the district's safety committee. Photo Credit: Liz Button

BEDFORD, N.Y. -- The Bedford Central School District issued this statement Th ursday regarding several new ideas outlined at a Tuesday meeting of the district's safety committee:

The Bedford Central School District’s long-standing Safety Committee met on Tuesday Jan. 8 to review current and prospective emergency preparedness plans and procedures in the wake of the recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.

While for years the district’s safety committee and building level emergency response teams have regularly planned, practiced, drilled and modified emergency plans, recent events have caused the district to assess further and to ask, “Are we adhering to our existing plans and procedures?” and “What other safety measures might be necessary to enhance our ability to protect our students, staff and community?”

In addition, through various public forums, district administration has heard from parents and community members’ requests for heightened vigilance and assurance for student safety.

The District Safety Committee, chaired by Mark Betz, assistant superintendent of business and administrative services, consists of parents, community members, local police and fire department leadership, school principals, teachers, a mental health professional, a school board member, facilities and technology leadership and district administration.

The meeting included discussion of the committee’s role as advisory to district administration and school board, the development of a timetable for performing updated building safety audits, discussion of the role of the district’s safety/security consultants, a review of concerns and interests recently expressed by parents and community members, and consideration of immediate measures to improve and enhance safety in the schools.

Many ideas were discussed and members agreed they will consider all suggestions. For immediate action, the committee recommended the security and safety audits of the buildings be given priority and be conducted now.

In addition, consensus was reached to hire additional safety personnel for those locations where the current practices and procedures cannot be adequately performed with existing staff.  The board of education supported this recommendation by allocating additional funds to give the superintendent of schools authority to hire additional staff or to provide additional resources as needed. The safety audits will be conducted by the district’s consultant, Altaris Consulting Group, in collaboration with District Administration. Altaris Consulting Group is an experienced school emergency preparedness planner.

The committee indicated the preference that easily implemented procedural changes or facility security improvements be done as soon as possible as opposed to waiting for final reports.

The final reports will include recommendations for what can be done now, what can be done in the near future or what can wait to be included as part of upcoming budgets or inclusion in capital plans. Facility and procedure audits are expected to be completed over a thirty day period with the consultants reporting back to the committee upon completion.

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