At the Agua Fria School District, safety is our priority.
A note from our Superintendent Dr. Dennis Runyan.
In 2011 we upgraded a cabinet level position which now includes responsibilities to oversee school safety issues and prevention services. Mr. Robles is Executive Director of Facilities and School Safety. We have a district wide safety committee (SSAC - Security and Safety Committee) which meets monthly and reviews needs and issues for each of our four high school campuses. This group includes school administrators, teachers, law enforcement, fire and rescue and we are discussing adding student leaders. Mr. Robles also took the district safety plan which is reviewed annually, and has worked with agencies to strengthen this shared relationship, and to incorporate federal guidelines and recommendations. Our school are mandated to carry out various drills and evacuation procedures monthly. We have adopted the term "safe shelter" drills as we feel this best reflect our attempt to provide a secure learning environment as possible. Through Mr. Robles, and the cabinet, we also expanded our security staff to 4 security employees on each campus this year (from 3) and a fifth at Millennium High School due to their larger enrollment. Our schools each have an armed SRO (police officer) full-time on campus as well.
With the community support and passage of the 2011 - 12 Bond for our district we are in the process of upgrading campus cameras and increasing coverage locations. With this Bond we are also adding interior cameras for key hallways and providing internal building coverage. Software and web based monitoring is also being upgraded. Along with this effort additional fencing and campus security measures are being addressed.
We have updated our call system for reaching parents and the band width for electronic communications. I have recently asked Mr. Robles to develop and an update for the board on these Bond developments which he shared with the board this month. He will now be taking the same presentation to the school site councils to provide additional updates for the schools directly. The visitor screening process has tightened and we are continuing to work toward having a clear process for our visitors. I know Mr. Robles and other district administration have spent weekly visits this fall shadowing security officers and administrators to gain first hand insight into their needs and observations.
As Superintendent I recently met with a security/surveillance group to gauge the cost of an outside audit. At this time we do not have the budget for such an external audit. We do have excellent professional resources to do on going internal audits with help of local law enforcement and experts from the community. We are grateful for the community input and advisement. Our security staff is organized where we are developing training and support which can be customized across our four campuses. This means that across the district these procedures will be shared equitably, and provides a major step toward improved quality control. One good example of this "quality control" was our first long distance evacuation drill to the Goodyear ball park. In the past this drill would have ended without leaving the campus, but now we have a better understanding of the logistics and resources involved even down to the fuel and time costs from each campus.
From my point of view our two biggest areas of growth right now would be continuing to develop stronger portals for timely direct parent and student safety communication procedures, and for collective community budget support addressing safety upgrades and opportunities for social services interventions (services working with at risk students prior to potential events).
Between the recently approved bond work, personnel additions, and training opportunities we are in the process of spending over 1.5 million dollars on school safety and security. This has been accomplished by our local community and taxpayer support... as to the best of my knowledge, we have not received direct state funding for these initiatives. We do appreciate the shared cost and coverage by our local IGA's with the cities of Goodyear, Avondale, and Buckeye which have made the SRO program possible. These are supported by grants with the city governments, and shared partnership costs in some cases. In pockets across the state local communities have stepped up together which is something the state leaders should value, and provide additional support around.