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As teachers are preparing their classrooms for the new school year, a handful of Natrona County schools are getting a thorough security examination.
“Parents put a lot of faith in us to take care of their children while they are in school. We take that seriously and this is one way we can make sure we are implementing practices that are keeping our schools safer,” said Angie Hayes, principal, Willard Elementary.
Ms. Hayes was eager to make Willard available to a security team comprised of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), NCSD’s Risk Manager, NCSD’s Maintanence Manager, and the Casper Fire Department. Ms. Hayes, along with Willard staff, completed an intensive walk-through of the 63- year-old building, both inside and outside, portables and classrooms.
The team looked at access points, lighting, landscaping, and bus drop-off zones. They discussed protocol and policy options that can be implemented in short order. They made a list of tasks and items needed for increased security.
“We will take the lists from all of the buildings we visited, compile them, and come up with an action plan,” said Jeff Hauk, NCSD Risk Manager. “We know there are common threads at schools across the district and we can utilize these findings to make improvements.”
At Willard, Ms. Hayes hopes to take the results of her school’s assessment to the parents and the PTO to encourage their involvement in creating a safer learning environment.
The team conducted similar comprehensive assessments at Kelly Walsh High School, Centennial Middle School, CY Middle School, and Summit Elementary. These audits are part of the Department of Homeland Security Infrastructure Survey Tool “School Safety and Security Assessment.” The Natrona County School District is the only district in the state to take part in this voluntary assessment. Following the December 2012 tragedy in Newtown, CT, President Barak Obama directed the FBI, Secret Service, Department of Education, and Department of Homeland Security to begin offering outreach and assessment for our nation’s schools in an effort toward providing the safety and security required in 21st Century schools.