Rochester Community Schools Awarded $1.9 Million to Enhance Safety!
Feb 27, 2023, ROCHESTER, MI - To support the Rochester Community Schools continued commitment to safety,
the state of Michigan has awarded the district $1.9 million in safety grants.
“Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our school community. We remain truly grateful for the state’s efforts to ensure school districts have the resources to continue to keep our students, staff and guests as safe as possible,” said Superintendent Dr. Robert Shaner.
The safety grant funds can be used for: staff training for threat assessments, response, and crisis communications; increased coordination efforts with local law enforcement; safety infrastructure; software that integrates with existing security cameras; age-appropriate training for students and families on gun ownership; training for school resource officers; and other school safety products and services to improve or maintain security in the buildings.
The Rochester Community School District’s comprehensive approach to safety has been sustained for more than a decade through steadfast strategic planning, strong partnerships and the community’s investment in the bond and sinking fund programs.
“We are fortunate to be able to work with the best law enforcement teams and safety experts in the field who provide research-based training, guidance and resources to protect our community,” said Dr. Shaner. “We also rely on our students, staff and families who use a community approach to safety. One of our best defenses against harm aligns with the strong relationships and trust that have been cultivated over the years.”
Rochester Community Schools hosts safety summit to provide safety information, resources, processes and best practices.
The Rochester Community School District proudly hosted its first School Safety Summit on Feb. 8. This
informative event featured the district's partners sharing updates about how the community is working
together to prioritize a safe and secure teaching and learning environment.
The RCS School Safety Summit is an outgrowth of the Oakland County Safety Summit that was presented by Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard and Superintendent of Oakland Schools Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson in October.
“After attending the Oakland County summit and engaging in respectful conversations with RCS families, we collaborated with our community partners to provide one-stop access to district safety information, resources, processes, and best practices,” said Debi Fragomeni, deputy superintendent for teaching and learning.
Attendees at the RCS School Safety Summit were able to meet RCS school resource officers, hear about the district's continuing safety audits and improvements, get updates on the physical security features in school buildings, view an instructional video for student lockdown drills, and learn about collaborative emergency response efforts that extend to city, county and state partners.
During the presentation, Jason Russell, CEO of Secure Education Consultants, commended Rochester Community Schools for its proactive commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of its community. Russell provides safety audits for hundreds of schools across the state. Since 2018, his team of security professionals have been working with the district to ensure continued improvement.
“In many ways, Rochester is a model district,” said Russell. “It’s what we would want a district to be in terms of, not only how they approach safety and security, but how they take recommendations and how they take advice.” Russell also reinforced how the district’s community partnerships remain essential for the safety of the community.
A resource fair at the event offered free giveaways and opportunities to reinforce home and school safety. An authorized collection area was on site for safe medication disposal; the Jamie Daniels Foundation provided free at-home Deterra drug disposal kits; and the Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities provided Narcan, Fentanyl testing strips and CPR face shields, along with training on how to recognize signs of an opioid overdose and administer the opioid antagonist. Other resources included trigger locks for at-home gun safety from Be SMART, File of Life refrigerator magnet pockets for emergency contact information from the Rochester Hills Fire Department, flashing safety lights for backpacks from the Rochester Community Schools Foundation, and much more.
“We appreciate our community partners and safety experts who supported this informative event,” said Dr. Shaner. “Safety is always our priority.”
Rochester Community Schools continues to explore opportunities to enhance safety.
The overwhelming support of the greater Rochester community has enabled RCS to make an investment
through recent bond and sinking fund programs to enhance safety and school security districtwide—a
priority outlined in the RCS strategic plan.
Today, main building entrances across the district have two sets of vestibule doors, along with a door to the office that provides staff with a better visitor verification system and building lockdown capabilities. More than 1,500 video surveillance cameras have been installed in the schools and on buses. (A decade ago, the district had a total of six video cameras for the entire district.) Locks that latch from the interior side of the classroom door have been added, and an updated districtwide telephone system, radio, and PA system ensure proper notification and warning during an emergency. Preschool programs have also been integrated into elementary school buildings to ensure the safest learning environment possible.
Each school within the Rochester Community School District has a designated Critical Incident Team that includes administrators, teachers, counselors, secretaries, support staff, and security personnel. These teams assist during emergency situations; discuss building safety and security; and provide support when carrying out yearly mandated drills (five fire drills, three lockdown drills, and two severe weather drills).
The district meets regularly with liaison officers from the Rochester Police Department and the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, along with security consultants at Safe-Ed., to learn about opportunities to enhance daily operating procedures for student safety and school security. Recent results from collaborative efforts include the creation of updated lockdown training videos for all staff and students; installation of Knox boxes (small wall-mounted boxes that hold building keys) for fire and law enforcement personnel; distribution of master keys to local law enforcement and liaison officers; installation of kits that support the Stop the Bleed® program; restocking of “Go bags” designed to carry emergency gear and student information; and identification and support of staff training opportunities.
Law enforcement partners support staff training opportunities for multiple scenarios, which include: medical emergencies, lockdown/shelter in place, aggressive intruder, fire/evacuation, natural disasters and weather-related emergencies. They also assist the district’s school nurse to ensure personnel are trained in CPR/AED and EpiPen use, as well as the use of tourniquets, which aligns with the American College of Surgeons Stop the Bleed® program.
Following the tragic events in Oxford, a team from Secure Education Consultants toured every building across the district to determine additional opportunities to enhance security. This team is comprised of staff with prior U.S. Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security, military, police, fire, and education experience. Implemented recommendations include updating maps for all district buildings; adding numbers to all exterior building doors; and reviewing and modifying entrance and exit procedures. Further recommendations are currently under review.
The Oakland County Tactical Training Consortium, also known as OakTac, is an organization established by the local sheriff and police departments to provide for the common goal of training law enforcement personnel in multiple jurisdictions and ensuring standardization of communications, training and tactical techniques.
“It is my honor that OakTac has invited me to serve as a member of the consortium, taking into consideration my background as a police officer, high-school administrator and superintendent,” said Dr. Shaner. “As we continue to prioritize school safety and security in RCS and across the county, a district administrator can bring a unique perspective to aid in the discussions.”
In December 2022, the district enhanced the school resource officer program in a partnership with the City of Rochester Hills by adding a dedicated, full-time, year-round detective sergeant from the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.
“We are extremely grateful for the school resource officers who remain an important part of our school family,” said Fragomeni. “By maintaining a regular, familiar presence in our buildings and on school campuses, our law enforcement liaisons build a strong rapport with our students and staff, while providing the knowledge and support to protect our school community."
Students are always encouraged to talk with a trusted adult if they see, hear, or experience something that doesn't seem right. Community members can also report information using the Talk to RCS feature on the district’s website or anonymously using Michigan's student safety program, OK2SAY.
“Safety is not always convenient, but we will continue to do all we can to protect our school community,” said Dr. Shaner. “Family, school, business, community and state partnerships remain integral for our success.”
Rochester Community Schools Mission
To provide a quality education in a caring atmosphere for students to attain the necessary skills and knowledge to become lifelong learners and contribute to a diverse, interdependent and changing world.
February 27, 2023, Rochester Community Schools, Rochester.Life