School Safety Month proclaimed in Knox

Superintendent Kelly Sprinkles, along with students, staff, and local government and law enforcement, has proclaimed October 2013 as “School Safety Month” in the Knox County Public Schools.

During a ceremony held at the Board of Education on Friday, October 4, Sprinkles expressed the importance of being prepared for all types of school emergencies – from school and workplace accidents to natural disasters.

In his proclamation, Sprinkles stated that “…one of the most profound duties of the Knox County Board of Education is ensuring the safety and security of its students and staff members.”

Two key activities that will take place during the month of October are district-wide revisions of school emergency plans, set to take place beginning October 17, and participation in Kentucky Safe Schools Week set for October 20-26, 2013.

Kim Merida, facilities director for the school district, is heading up annual revisions to school emergency plans.

“School safety is an on-going process,” said Merida.  “We have already had drills in all of our schools during the first thirty days of school and our next step is making sure that our procedures are up to date and our emergency plans reflect this year’s students and staff.

“Each school has an emergency response team and they will be coming together at the district level on October 17 to update their school-level plans and continue discussion with local law enforcement.”

Local law enforcement’s participation in school safety planning is nothing new to Knox County, according to Merida.  However, with the passage of Senate Bill 8/HB 354, which changes several of Kentucky’s current school safety statutes, many districts are beginning to have those discussions for the very first time.

“This bill requires school districts to include community first responders in their emergency plans,” said Merida.  “We have always had our local officials involved as we review and refine our emergency and safety practices.”

The second activity of school safety month, Kentucky Safe Schools Week, is part of the Kentucky Center for School Safety’s plans to reduce bullying, violence, and risky behavior.

During the week students, staff, parents and community members will be encouraged to join in and be part of the school’s safety team to stop a multitude of safety issues. This week’s positive focus will be on “Safety,” “Teamwork,” “Opportunities” and “Power” all stakeholders will be encouraged to get involved and S.T.O.P.! Bullying, Violence and Risky Behavior in our Schools which supports a safe, respectful, climate where all can succeed.

A concerted effort will be used to bring together all Kentuckians to improve safety in our schools by educating students, staff and community members about school safety issues such as bullying, cyber-bullying, conflict, gangs, substance abuse, internet safety and self-harm. The phrase “Join the team” encourages student groups to find opportunities to use their power to make schools a neighborhood “sanctuary” for academic, athletic and social purposes. Teachers will have resources available for them to use during this week, including; an online S.T.O.P.! Pledge, PowerPoint presentations, lessons, and interactive websites.