School SafetyPosted by Paul Craft on 2/23/2018 4:00:00 PM
Incidents over the past few weeks have again brought focus to school safety in our country. We understand that students, staff, parents and our community are feeling anxious and may have questions about what we are doing locally to ensure the safest environment for our school community. As a superintendent and father, I sincerely wish that these conversations were not necessary, but we all know that they are.
I want to assure you that the safety of our students is our top priority. We continue to work closely with the Delaware Police Department to ensure we are updating our prevention and response plans to be consistent with best practices. Below are some of the safety measures in place at our schools:
- We have strived to establish an observed, locked, single point of entry during the school day at all schools which requires visitors to check in at the school office before gaining entrance to the school.
- We have two armed Delaware Police Department School Resource Officers assigned to our district. Their role is not only to serve as a security presence, but also to establish positive relationships with our student body.
- Our teachers have been trained in flexible responses using concepts similar to ALICE (flight–hide/barricade-fight) and these concepts are practiced with students during safety drills. Our schools conduct several age appropriate safety drills per year with various scenarios including an active aggressor.
- We actively encourage “See Something, Say Something.” We utilize a 24-hour hotline where any person can report a school concern. You can call or text 844-SAFEROH (844-723-3764) or make a report to the school or police. We investigate every report we receive.
- Our school counselors, together with community partner agencies, work to provide behavioral and mental health supports to struggling students and families.
Even with the physical safety measures in place, we know the best way to prevent violence in our schools is through the development of positive relationships both at home and at school. Our goal is for every student to have a trusted adult with whom they can share concerns, but we need our families to be partners in this endeavor.
Here are a few ways you can help:
- Be active in your child’s activities and ask questions about school.
- Know what your kids are doing on social media, text messaging and other apps.
- Remind your student that threats of any kind have serious consequences. This is not something they can “joke” about.
- Know your child’s friends and if their friends suddenly change.
- Take action when things don’t seem right – call the school, police or safety hotline to make a report. We all have a role in “See Something, Say Something.”
Together we can make a difference and ensure our schools and community remain a safe environment for students and families.
Winter Weather InformationPosted by Paul Craft on 1/3/2018
Happy New Year! We are looking forward to having our students back in school tomorrow. As we return from winter break, we wanted to remind families of our process as it relates to school delays/closings. We recognize school closings and delays can be disruptive to normal family routines and they have an obvious impact on the instructional time we have with our students. We value every minute we get to spend educating our students and believe it is important to keep them in a school routine as much as possible. That said, we are committed to making the best decision we can to ensure that our students and staff can travel to and from school safely.
Our schools utilize a team of 4-6 individuals, including the Superintendent, to travel throughout our district to assess road conditions, community sidewalks and our school parking lots. The team starts its work around 4:30 a.m. If the weather necessitates a delay or closing, we will try, whenever possible, to make the decision by 5:45 a.m., since our first buses roll out of the bus lot at 6:00 a.m., and immediately begin the notification process through our auto call system, text messaging, district social media, local television announcements and a message on the district website. The decision is even tweeted immediately from @suptcraft!
Closings - The decision to close is made when it looks like dangerous travel or weather conditions are going to persist or worsen in such a way that it does not appear that transitioning our 5,800 students and staff from home to school and back again is advisable. We are always reluctant to close our schools because of the serious impact it has on families and learning. Closings will generally be reserved for heavy snow, power/heat outages or extremely cold temperatures/windchills in the negative double digits Fahrenheit.
Delays - A delayed start allows time for the conditions of our roads, sidewalks and buildings to be improved so that we can safely transition our students and staff or for weather to improve, along with other considerations discussed below. A medium snowstorm overnight or a frigid overnight that looks to get a little better with time are examples of when we might utilize a delay. When we make a decision to delay we consider factors including the added safety of traveling in daylight, the impact of bright sunshine helping to reduce the impact of low windchills, extra time to start and warm our diesel buses to make sure they can all run their routes as close to posted times as possible, and time to check and prepare our facilities.
As we navigate this winter season, we appreciate the partnership with our parents to ensure children are properly dressed for cold weather. We also encourage parents to arrange for a friend or neighbor to transport children to and from school or the bus stop when needed. We will evaluate weather conditions on a day-by-day basis to make the best decisions for the safety of all students and strive to give parents as much notice as possible when delays/closings are necessary.
Thank you, Delaware!Posted by Paul Craft on 11/8/2017
Today, I am truly humbled by the support shown by our Delaware community in passing the DCS emergency operating levy. Our Board of Education and staff members appreciate the investment you have made in our schools, our kids and our community. This levy was critical to our ongoing success and will allow the district to continue with important programs and services for our students. We are grateful to the many staff members, parents and community members who gave of their time to help with the levy efforts.
Even with the passage of this levy, the board will continue to look at ways to stretch our taxpayer funds to the greatest extent possible. We are dedicated to delivering the best education possible at a reasonable cost for our constituents. We value the community as a partner in educating our students, and we pledge to continue to work to maintain the trust you have placed in us.
I know I say it often, but I am blessed to be part of this wonderful, dynamic and supportive community.
Paul Craft, Superintendent