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The original item was published from 4/21/2010 7:29:38 PM to 5/6/2010 12:00:10 AM.

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Posted on: April 21, 2010

[ARCHIVED] Madison School Safety Task Force Makes Preliminary Report

– Task Force Members Outline Initial Findings and Share Path Forward

Madison, AL -- Leadership of the Madison School Safety Task Force presented preliminary findings to the members of the Madison City School Board and the Madison City Council. Led by Robert Drolet, Mary Jane Caylor, and Rex Reynolds, the 33-member group has studied ways to help ensure student safety since mid-February.

Task Force members have focused their work in two primary areas -- safety and communications. Each group has taken advantage of many state and national resources to examine existing policies, best practices, and products. In both areas, the Madison City Schools were found to have many policies and procedures already in place that are very effective.

Drolet reported that the two teams have solicited input from a considerable number of sources -- school administrators, faculty, students, parents, Safe Schools subject matter experts, other school systems, law enforcement personnel and School Resource Officers, as well as other stakeholder groups. The general public has provided feedback via the "Talk to the Task Force" mechanism on the Madison City web site and that resource will continue to be available.
The Task Force has found that there are many impressive, dedicated and competent people throughout the school system. The group commended administrators and faculty and strongly noted the professionalism and dedication of the Madison Police Department and School Resource Officers.

Having noted the effective school leadership and strong stakeholder involvement, the Task Force also emphasized that an on-going, focused dialogue with stakeholders is vital to long-term success of a safe schools program. The group found that an increased level of parental engagement and involvement is necessary for greater school safety, and that providing schools and law enforcement with tools they need is essential to maintaining a safe educational environment.

Following initial observations by each team lead on the various aspects of safety and communication, Drolet shared the following "Hot Buttons" as some of the initial findings:
- School safety costs should be defined as part of an annual budget to ensure adequate funding for security and School Resource Officer (SRO) staffing.
- There is a need for physical security measures such as communications equipment and camera systems, staff training, and upgraded technology for proper entry control.
- Portable classrooms and other areas outside the main school buildings are particularly vulnerable.
- Exchange of student information between schools needs to be proactive and timely.
- There is a need for greater allocation of SROs and their integration into all aspects of school operations.
- A Supervisor of School Safety and Communications at the district level would greatly enhance all school safety activities.
- A greater level of safety can be achieved through more year-round parental involvement.
- There should be expanded effort to reach out to connect with students, thus ensuring a greater atmosphere of trust and security.
- Schools need to provide intervention tips on dealing with behavioral warning signs and expedite communications from parents to schools.

The Task Force also announced that a survey is now available on the City of Madison web site to gather feedback from parents, students, teachers, and residents -- www.madisonal.gov/SchoolTaskForce. The survey does not require use of personal data and is designed to maintain complete confidentiality.

"Talk to the Task Force" is also still available on the city site for more in-depth feedback, and the presentation given as the preliminary report is posted there as well.

Drolet closed by outlining the remaining activities of the Task Force and path to completion of the project. He said, "Our team will further assess potential risks as well as do more in-depth study on intimidating behavior and ways to mitigate threatening situations for our students. Through our work, we hope to emphasize that we must all find creative ways to teach and encourage positive behavior. It will be the shared responsibility of all the stakeholders of public education to help achieve the recommendations we provide."

In response to the initial report, Mayor Paul Finley said, "We are so grateful to the leadership and members of the Task Force for their service to their community. They have spent an extraordinary amount of time to evaluate our current situation and make thoughtful, substantive recommendations for improvements."

The target date for release of the final report is Friday, May 7th.

For more information, contact:
Barbara Nash -- 656.7039
barbara@bnarelations.com

[Task Force Survey...]
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