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In 2005 I was hired by SchoolDude as a Client Adviser. Growing up in the tech support and implementation side of the business, I gained a unique appreciation for the challenges and opportunities facing facility operations professionals at schools. In 2009 the Dude created a Success Management team, where I was fortunate to lead a small team responsible for engaging clients, assessing their opportunities, and helping to maximize their investment. In 2012 started wearing two big hats - Community Engagement Manager and Chief Data Dude. Today I'm very excited to be managing our Client Support team. My passion lies in leading this team of legendary support professionals, connecting peers in SchoolDude Nation, creating a valuable Community experience, and telling stories with data that inspire success in Facility Operations.
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When it comes to keeping students safe at school, there isn't much that administrators won't do. Between ensuring the building's essential equipment and infrastructure are well maintained and creating a safe and accommodating environment, school safety is an all-encompassing initiative that should inform many administrative decisions.
With summer in full swing, it's a perfect opportunity to assess your school's safety policies to determine if there are any areas that need additional beefing up. It's important to familiarize yourself with the safety standards you should be striving to meet, and what steps you can take to reach them.
Guidance from the top
Because safety seeps into nearly every aspect of school maintenance, tackling the issue head-on can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, if you don't know where to start, there are resources available that can point you in the right direction.
One of the most significant of these is the federal government's Safe School Initiative, implemented by the Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Justice in 2002. One result of the initiative is that it was determined that student-perpetrated acts of violence are almost never impulsive or completely unpredictable. Many such instances have been deemed preventable, with an emphasis on using students as resources for informing faculty of potential security risks.
"Don't overlook the importance of the small tasks that affect safety on a daily basis."
The little stuff matters too
Safety strategies in line with the Safe School Initiative may entail significant steps be taken to implement school-wide security measures. This may involve hiring additional personnel or upgrading security systems to include things like access control and on-campus surveillance.
But it's also important to not overlook the importance of the small tasks that can affect safety on a daily basis. This is an area that individual teachers can help simply by inspecting their classrooms to locate any potential safety hazards. Some states may have government regulations specifying certain standards must be met. Idaho, for example, requires all bookshelves over four feet tall to be bolted to the wall to prevent them from toppling over. Such considerations, while very important, can often be overlooked for the sake of larger issues of security.
What about the cost?
As with any major project, one concern administrators may have when it comes to overhauling school security is that of budget. Whether you're purchasing new security equipment, hiring additional personnel or simply adding additional training, you'll need the financial resources to make your plans a reality.
Fortunately, the U.S. government offers many grants through several of its organizations designed to help schools update their safety. For example, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency sponsor a grant program designed to help schools meet the standards of the National Preparedness Goal. Additional grants can be researched and applied for through the federal government's website at