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Safety for All Nebraska Schools

by Dan Bird, Superintendent

March 26, 2014

Safety Requirements For All Nebraska Schools

By Dan Bird, Superintendent


For a school to remain accredited in the state of Nebraska it requires that they meet all the guidelines that are outlined in Rule 10.  Burwell Public Schools is fully accredited by the Nebraska Department of Education.  Each year, as superintendent, I send an “assurance statement” that guarantees the state of Nebraska that the school district is meeting its requirements as pertaining to Rule 10.  The Nebraska Department of Education will visit schools to make sure they are in compliance with the various rules.  The last time the Nebraska Department of Education did a Rule 10 visit to Burwell was in 2007.

All public schools in the state are required to have a safety plan.  The safety plan addresses the safety and security of students, staff and visitors.    For safety reasons, the plan is not sent to the Nebraska Department of Education or a public document.  At Burwell Public Schools, our safety committee consists of:  Julie Tetschner-chairperson, Susan Goochey, Dave Owen, Amy Cassidy, John Hogmire, Bob Lee, Lori Hughes, Brandi Hodges, Ben Hughes, and Rita Snyder.  Student representatives:  Elaina Eddy and Hanna Christensen.  The board of education is updated throughout the year on issues that pertain to the safety committee.

The safety committee is required to meet annually to review the school’s safety and security plans and procedures.  This year the committee’s goal has been to update and unify the safety plans and procedures into one district-wide safety plan.  Each school has had a plan but the committee felt it was important to more closely tie those plans together.    On January 23 & 24, 2014, Burwell hosted  a two-day training session with local law enforcement , first responders and fire department officials.  Representatives from other schools also participated.  The purpose of the meeting was to review our plans and procedures and to strengthen communication between emergency officials and the school.  This training session was sponsored by the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and School Security Services.  The safety committee will have a third day of training later this spring.

In the past, the safety committee has invited local fire department and local law enforcement to meet at the school and to provide input in how to respond to emergency situations.  One of the changes that was recommended at the high school was moving students to a common area to better account for students.  These emergency officials have held training sessions at school.  They also have maps of the schools to identify emergency areas and key emergency shut-offs valves.

Each year the school district’s safety plan must be reviewed by one or more persons not on the school district’s safety committee and not an employee of the school district.  This review will include a visit to school buildings to analyze plans, policies, procedures and practices.  After the safety audit, recommendations are made to the superintendent of schools which is then forwarded to the board of education.  This year that safety audit was conducted by Sheriff Larry Donner.

The situation we have been dealing with for the past three weeks reinforces the importance of safety and it sent a real direct message that unexpected situations can happen anywhere.   This time it happened in our closely knit community.  The safety plans that we have in place are continually changing.  The school has already started the process of determining how we can better deal with this type of emergency when it arises.  We thank you for your continued support.      

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