The Silver Lake Regional School Committee reviewed armed threat safety training with a presentation from Silver Lake’s interim principal, Michaela Gill.
The school district uses an approach known as A.L.I.C.E. if an emergency such as this were to happen. The system is already in place, but was being reviewed following the Parkland Florida shooting. Gill said that A.L.I.C.E. is an acronym for: Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.
She explained in detail each letter of A.L.I.C.E and what they represent. The “Alert” aspect of the emergency protocol changes past lockdown protocols where only authorized personnel could broadcast the emergency over the PA system.
Now, everyone is authorized to announce an emergency to the rest of the school. Gill said there’s also no longer coded colors such as “code yellow,” but direct information when alert threats.
Lockdown is a common emergency procedure in American schools, but Gill said “Lockdown” under A.L.I.C.E. takes this a step further. Besides just locking doors, barricading them is also necessary with this plan.
According to Gill, statistics show that if an armed threat cannot get into a room, they are likely to move on to another room in the building.
“Inform” encourages students and faculty to use technology to inform as many people about the situation as possible. Gill said students under A.L.I.C.E. should use their phones to post on Facebook, tweet, and call their families. “Knowledge is power,” said Gill. She believes it helps with the emergency response.
“Counter,” Gill said empowers students to take life-saving action if put in this type of situation. If students cannot reach a secure location and end up in contact with the armed threat, students are encouraged to use whatever they can to distract them.
Some of the objects Gill mentioned included books and staplers projectiles a student could use to create a distraction. Gill said this part of A.L.I.C.E. can be hard to explain, but she showed a video to emphasize better what “Counter” means. The video was made by students at Hanover High School, one of the first school districts in the area to adopt A.L.I.C.E.
“Evacuate” is the ultimate goal under A.L.I.C.E. Gill emphasized that the acronym doesn’t mean that these are necessarily steps to be taken in a strict order. If faculty and students are safety able to evacuate, then they should do so.
Silver Lake Middle School Assistant Principal Jason Conetta said the video and training helped give students more confidence of what to do if pressed with this type of emergency situation. A student survey is being given out to gauge student’s comfort level with this training.
2019 Budget Discussions
Next year’s school budget is expected to be tight. At numerous Halifax Board of Selectmen meetings, Town Administrator Charles Seelig cited unanticipated increases to the special education budget as part of the reason for the more challenging 2019 fiscal year budget.
A document with the tier one cuts for the school district was referenced by Superintendent Joy Blackwood. She said, cuts currently total $291,257.
Blackwood has thought of some other ideas for potential cuts. One thought was for the school committee to go paperless. The Dennett Elementary School Committee in Plympton runs a paperless system besides executive minutes. According to Blackwood, the paperless system at Dennett works well.
This would mostly be a statement rather than a meaningful cut, which Blackwood acknowledged. “It won’t make a huge difference,” she said. It would make a statement about being more “cost effective.”
There are Chromebook laptops available for use if the committee chose to take this route. Blackwood said “It’s food for thought.” She’s nervous of this option herself.
Two more significant cuts Blackwood believed would be safe for the school district to make. The school district received news that two secretaries left Silver Lake. One is retiring, while the other is moving on to a different school district. According to Blackwood, not replacing the secretaries would save Silver Lake $8,000.
Another option suggested was cutting down the number of faxes and other cuts to telecommunications. Blackwood said the district can save $5,000 on its annual phone bill by making this cut.
Blackwood mentioned another potential cut but wasn’t sure she’d want to actually recommend it. The school district has a bookkeeper retiring who makes $28,000 annually. The cost of the salary is shared by Silver Lake and the elementary school budgets, so this would save $14,000 on Silver Lake’s budget while splitting the savings of the other $14,000 between the elementary budgets of Plympton, Halifax, and Kingston.
The new accounting system would be run by Christine (didn’t see her name on school committee website and didn’t get a good view of name tag on video). School Committee Chair Paula Hatch shared concerns that this may be putting too much of a burden on Christine.
Christine highlighted some efficiencies in the new accounting system and didn’t express concern. She said, “We’ll manage our way through this.”
Seelig shared some concerns pertaining to Halifax about the current state of the proposed budget. He said the Halifax Finance Committee won’t make a decision on recommendation for annual town meeting until the final proposal.
He explained Halifax’s conservative approach and how the budget in its current state may be too burdensome for the town’s taxpayers. “Halifax does not use all of its property taxes,” said Seelig. “We don’t spend to the levy limit.”
Seelig explained that Halifax does this for two reasons. He said, “We don’t want to place a full, absolute burden on the taxpayers.”
The other reason was that Halifax likes to leave room within the levy for accounts the town doesn’t have control over. This includes special education, health insurance, and retirement.
- Silver Lake students finished their 9-day Bruins pajama drive this month. Last count had over 100 pairs of new pajamas to be donated. Sizes range from children all the way up to teen sizes.
- Changes to the social studies curriculum were brought up by Assistant Superintendent Jill Proux. The curriculum will incorporate more civics in history and social science classes rather than it being just a single class.