• October 15, 2019

Safety, security, improvement plans reviewed at workshop - Odessa American: News

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Safety, security, improvement plans reviewed at workshop

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Posted: Wednesday, October 9, 2019 3:45 pm

Steps that have been taken to make Ector County ISD campuses more secure and the process campuses are undergoing to make improvements under state standards were hashed out by board members during a workshop.

Superintendent Scott Muri said safety and security has been an opportunity not only for ECISD but schools around the nation.

Officials from the ECISD police department, counseling, student support, technology and facilities talked about what is in place and what is being implemented to make schools safer.

Mental health and wellness, which will be a priority of the Student Health Advisory Council this year, is part of safety and security.

Alicia Syverson, assistant superintendent of student and school support, said the district has a seat on the resiliency task force which is focusing on long range planning to move the community back to normal after the Aug. 31 mass shooting.

District personnel had undergone training before the shooting, which helped, Syverson said.

Officer Aaron Marrero talked about the standard response protocol in place across the district and state in case of everything from emergencies to drills.

The guidelines were created by the “I Love U Guys” Foundation and endorsed by the state of Texas, as guidelines for responding to emergency situations. The guidelines are available in every classroom and office in the school district and can be found on the ECISD website, the board recap said.

Lt. Scott McKown told the board there are 29 officers in the police department, including two canine officers, two gang officers and two police investigators.

McKown said there are officers in the department who are on the Odessa Police Department SWAT team.

Officers are trained in ALERRT, Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training and ECISD serves as a training hub, McKown said.

He said the department is very involved in student Crime Stoppers and a tip line is in place for bullying.

School alarms are monitored 24 hours a day and there are 1,735 cameras in the district that are monitored by dispatchers the entire time they are on shift, McKown said.

The police department installed Bearacade lockdown barriers for all classrooms in secondary schools and will soon begin installing them in elementary schools, too, the board recap said.

Chief Operations Officer Patrick Young said controlled access is finished at Odessa High School and is expected to be complete at Permian High School this week. Controlled access is also in place at many campuses and the project is expected to be complete by the end of the semester, Young said.

Controlled access and secure fencing were paid for by the tax ratification election that passed in November 2018.

Counseling and mental health evaluation can be the earliest steps to keeping schools safe, the recap said.

The district provides 18 Student Assistance Services, or SAS, counselors who are trained in critical incident stress management.

Muri commended ECISD for having an SAS team that large. All staff is trained for trauma recognition, crisis plans are in place for dealing with deaths of students and staff members, and a partnership with Texas Tech University offers tele-psychiatry services to students.

In the wake of the mass shooting Aug. 31, ECISD is involved in the West Texas resiliency task force and is actively working with families, and the wider community, impacted by the violence, the recap said.

Chief Technology Officer Kellie Wilks said technology plays a big part in detecting and preventing events. Technology is used to record and surveil, but no technology is as valuable as a human, she said.

On the academic side, Dalia Benavides, executive director of secondary education, and Annette Macias, director of accountability, assessment & school improvement, presented on the process required by the Texas Education Agency to improve the district’s 16 failing campuses.

A school in its first year with an overall rating of D or F, or with multiple years of an F, is required to be part of the targeted improvement planning process.

The plan must follow six essential actions of the Effective Schools Framework, the recap said.

Those six actions focus on campus leadership; highly qualified educators; compelling and aligned mission, vision, goals and values; curriculum and assessment aligned to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS); objective-driven daily lesson plans with assessment; and data driven instruction.

During a two-day period, principals are trained on the Effective Schools Framework process and how to build a plan for their campus. The plans have already been submitted to the Texas Education Agency, and periodic checks will be done through the year to evaluate progress, the recap stated.

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