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School districts in northeast Michigan are working together for security and response. | News, Sports, Jobs

News photo by Barbara Woodham Lee Fitzpatrick, director of communications for Alpena Public Schools, uses his employee badge to open the door to Ella White Elementary School.

NAFTA – To keep students safe and better prepared in the event of a crisis, several school districts in northeast Michigan have teamed up to collaborate on emergency plans and responses.

Alpena Public Schools Superintendent Dave Rabbideau said he was very proud of a newly formed group that brings together a board of leaders from the region to discuss crisis response and procedural protocol.

“We met last month because we recognized that our strength is to work together,” said Rabbideau.

Board members include Rabbideau, Alcona Community Schools Superintendent Dan O’Connor, Hillman and Atlanta Community Schools Superintendent Carl Seiter, Don MacMaster, Alpena Community College President Scott Reynolds, the District Superintendent of Educational Services of Alpena-Montmorency-Alcona and Mark Hall, Alpena County Emergency Services Coordinator.

Some future efforts of the committee will include enhanced exercises such as live action scenarios, audits of safety and security protocols, and involving more agencies in the process.

Rabbideau said that while the APS meets annually with Alpena emergency agencies to develop district contingency plans, in the event of an extreme emergency, other districts and counties would come in to help.

The new committee will help educate and familiarize districts on the protocols of surrounding districts, so in an emergency there is no time wasted delegating tasks and responses.

Rabbideau said the new committee will meet again this week to discuss its next steps.

The group released a joint statement last week in response to the Oxford school shooting, which reads in part: pledge to put the safety and security of those in our care first .

Although the group is a new collaborative effort, it has already taken steps to better prepare for crisis events. At the group’s first meeting, Hall suggested that all key administrators should enroll in the Incident Command System training program offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The training consists of four online courses totaling 12 hours, followed by a test. All APS administrators received the deadline last Wednesday to complete this training and testing.

Alpena Public Schools have already taken steps to improve and increase school safety over the past year and a half.

The district asked voters in March 2020 to approve the sale of $ 33.9 million in bonds to fund school building upgrades, including security. Homeowners will repay the bonds over the next 25 years through about 1.8 million property taxes, or about $ 90 per year for the owner of a $ 100,000 home.

APS director of communications Lee Fitzpatrick said the district has already made significant progress in upgrading the security system in its schools and cited the two-tier security system in its schools as an example. Ella White Elementary School.

First, visitors must press an intercom button to reach the office. Then, if they are allowed to enter through the first door, they are required to provide an ID card to be scanned into a Raptor ID system that performs a background check and prints a visitor’s photo on a badge. of visitor if he is authorized to enter the building.

Fitzpatrick said security system upgrades are underway across the district. APS officials told The News last year they hoped to improve admissions to all schools in the district, allowing visitor screening and deterring people who shouldn’t be on campus, while also warning police of potential threats if necessary.

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