Safety & Security
Background and Goals
In addition to providing a high quality education to all students, District 64 sets an equally high priority on student and staff safety. To ensure our schools are as safe as they can be within an educational setting, District 64 has refocused efforts to provide layered security and multiple deterrents to maximize safety for everyone in the building.
We also are mindful of the delicate balance needed between making our buildings more secure, while ensuring they function and feel like welcoming, neighborhood learning centers for our students.
Here are some of the steps that have been accomplished:
- A 10-year Health Life Safety Survey and Master Facilities Plan were completed in spring 2015. These analyses offered an opportunity to revisit the safety practices and security systems within all District 64 buildings. The highest priority projects were identified as those needed to keep our schools “safe, warm and dry.” District 64 invested significant time and resources in the development of both plans and the priority project lists to complete this work. The most immediately needed facility and infrastructure projects were completed in summer 2016, and represented a large step forward toward reaching the goal of ensuring all schools meet the "safe, warm and dry" commitment. An additional key component is the creation of secured vestibules, which guide visitors to a single control point before they provide identification needed to be cleared to enter or leave the school. The District's first fully secured vestibule was added to Washington School in summer 2016. Read more about Washington's new secured entry here.
- The HLS/MFP builds on a physical safety audit of the schools and Educational Service Center completed by security consultant Paul Timm of RETA Security in August 2013. District 64 also added the expertise of the Northeastern Illinois Public Safety Training Academy (NIPSTA) in late fall 2015 to augment/enhance the RETA Report; provide support with the development or revision of policies and procedures; and provide initial as well as ongoing staff training. See Partnerships for more information.
Although it is impossible to guarantee 100% school security, it is possible to significantly minimize risks that harm will come to anyone in a school building due to a breach of security. Minimizing risk has been a central focus in the District's comprehensive safety and security plan. Key recommendations from the RETA physical security audit have been met in three of four key areas, as noted in Enhancements.
While we are confident our updated emergency response plans now reflect recommended standards for best practices, in District 64 our new mindset is that everyone must feel confident in being a first responder until the community First Responders arrive. Therefore, training is a major focus of our efforts in 2016-17. For the first time District 64 is introducing training aligned with national emergency preparedness standards. This level of training means that our administrators and staff will be able to coordinate more efficiently with local First Responders who have long followed this structure. New tools, such as the "Crisis Go" mobile app, also will assist the District in coordinating responses to a wide range of emergencies.