Saugus District reviews safety, risk management

The Saugus Union School District office. Dan Watson/The Signal

The Saugus Union School District reviewed their safety and risk management policies for the upcoming year on Tuesday, including the plan to introduce new technology and posters in school sites and classrooms.

Overall, SUSD board President Julie Olsen said she was happy that the district’s policies reflect that safety “is not only a priority; it’s a top core value” and that there are still a number of ways the district is continuing to improve its safety and security around the district.

“Our commitment is to create a total safety culture, which ensures that everyone understands the role that they play, that everyone has a role in fostering a safe learning environment that we want to have in place and that we are constantly engaged in supporting the continuous improvement of procedures, tools and resources that can help support that mission.”

Included in the presentation was the highlighting of the relationship between law enforcement agencies, and how they work closely with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station to do specific assessments alongside school leaders during fire, earthquake and lockdown drills.

“They give very specific feedback on what we’re doing well and what we can improve upon. And then they sit down with the district leadership and the board, and provide detailed data on the outcome of those assessments.”

In addition to working with law enforcement regularly, running safety and emergency drills, in order to improve the daily safety of children, schools are moving away from sand and replacing it with rubber on the playgrounds, they’re using electronic locks with lockdown buttons at 13 of the 17 school sites, and they’re working toward having a single point of entry to schools across the district, according to the presentation given on Tuesday.

Olsen said there are also updates coming to the PA systems at the schools, which will allow school site staff to use a cell phone to make an announcement. The district also talked about the importance of communicating with parents and the community, and how they’ll be starting a campaign that focuses in on letting everyone know what they need to know in the event of an emergency.

“It’s those types of tools that we are already employing, but we’re constantly looking at ways of enhancing to ensure that all possible scenarios have effective communication vehicles,” said Olsen.

During the presentation given to the board, Keith Karzin, the SUSD director of safety, risk management and benefits, said the school district is also looking to add posters to school sites that clearly display lockdown procedures to those inside of classrooms. The handout will also be given to parents so they can know what to do in the event of an emergency or lockdown.

“There’s never a guarantee that we’re going to prevent or stop an incident from happening,” said Olsen. “But what we do have control over is how well we can be prepared and how well we can educate our staff and community on their part in order to minimize negative impact.”

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