The business side of schools is something almost no one talks about regularly. We talk about data, social emotional and mental health needs, curriculum, start times, facilities, and recess but so often, the support services for education (business side) are often overlooked while being some of the most crucial roles surrounding our staff and children inside the schools.
For example, our safety and emergency management department. We want to share with you some stats and info given at the December Jeffco University meeting that we think you should know and share.
Nationally, we’ve seen 11 school shootings in 2017 so far and it’s still January. Jeffco Schools has experienced 3 previously, it’s a record we’d all like not to have. But that’s not all this department protects our students from.
The 24/7/265 department team consists of 24/7/365 department that includes:
- Judicial Services & Threat Management Team of 3
- Armed Patrol Division of 18
- Unarmed high school campus supervisor team of 78
- Emergency Dispatch Center of 11
- Emergency Management section of 1
- 1 executive director, 4 managers and 1 administrative assistant
This team, led by Executive Director John McDonald, logs more work hours than you want to know. COO Steve Bell recently said he believes that Mr. McDonald works more hours than anyone in Jeffco. Part of this reason is our Safe2Tell program. Our district has partnered hugely with this organization (as well as the I Love U Guys Foundation and the Jeffco Sheriff Department) to ensure our kids are protected in every way possible and that means they must operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
It’s not just school shootings. Suicide and other safety concerns are amongst the top calls. Check out this infographic from Safe2Tell from the prior year:
Because education funding is so low, all of our departments are operating on an extremely limited and tight budget. Just a few of the growing challenges for this team were presented at the December Jeffco University meeting:
- 51 Reports of planned school attacks were received in the 2016-2017 school year
- 550 threat assessments in 2016/2017- that represents a 78% increase from the prior year and still increasing at a similar rate this school year
- Dispatch center handled over 70,000 phone and radio calls in 2016/2017 school year. An increase from 45,000 two years earlier
- Patrol team responded to 29,000 calls for service in 2016/2017
- First 3 ½ months of this school year there have been 9 gun issues involving students
- 1,129 Safe2Tell reports were submitted by students in crisis 2016/2017. A 57% increase over the previous year.
- 1,471 Suicide Risk Assessments in 2016/2017. This school year we are already over 931 Suicide Risk Assessments as of December 1
Here’s a 9News story and video interview with John McDonald with just a little info on threats: http://www.9news.com/article/news/education/what-determines-a-credible-threat-to-a-school/73-511297896
Knowing how we’re funding education in Colorado and that we failed to approve the 2016 mill and bond and have neglected to make a significant investment in our schools since 2004, how do you think this impacts our children? We clearly need to continue investing in this department and offer the overworked team more resources.
The district is committed to protecting the safety and security of our children. A review of the facilities has identified high priority safety and security needs at our schools.
Just one last note for when you encounter the keyboard cowboys online who say “just put a metal detector at every school.” First, we don’t have the funding. Even if we did, they have proven ineffective in an open school environment. We would need to close campuses and add twice the security staff at each high school. The fail rate at airports is incredibly high and that is using the latest technology. We would have lines of students backed up for more than an hour or more every morning.
When the chance to come together to work for more funding for our schools presents itself, how hard will you be willing to work? Join our newsletter list to ensure you’re aware when the opportunity comes; just email your name to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeffco has always been committed to providing a safe environment for our children and this department is the gold standard as recognized around the country. But…we can’t keep doing more with less.