Dear Everett Public Schools community members,
In December, two years ago, our communities were shaken by a school shooting on the other side of the country. This fall, we were rocked again by a school shooting – this time much closer to home and involving people so many of us know.
We may never have answers or reasons for the violence that occurred in Marysville and that repeats all too often in our country.
I do know, however, how carefully this school district and regional emergency responders have practiced for something we hope will not happen here. The Longfellow Building on Oakes – formerly a school district support service center – is now used periodically for emergency response drills. Law enforcement and fire and emergency medical teams use the blind corners, twisting hallways and three stories of stairways of the obsolete building as a training “set.” Staging various scenarios, fire fighters, EMTs, police officers, and SWAT teams practice ways to secure students and staff in worst-case scenarios.
This district, like others, has invested in significant safety and security projects that will also enhance safety for students, families, staff and community who learn and meet in our schools. In 2014, we sought voter approval for additional safety enhancements for schools – funding voters twice refused in 2014.
Although funding for capital bond safety projects is not immediately available, Everett Public Schools is moving ahead with integrated safety enhancement projects involving 911 and video security.
RAVE 911 is a mobile “app” giving school staff immediate connection to 911. It is available to school districts served by SnoPac 911 in Snohomish County.
This enhanced and expedited 911 system is possible because of an OSPI grant obtained in partnership with law enforcement. With this partnership, Everett Public Schools is a national leader in the rollout of RAVE 911. What is the benefit of RAVE 911 for schools?
The video security system, funded in part by the 2010 Capital Levy, is augmented by $800,000 from an OSPI Emergency Response grant and will integrate with RAVE 911. Available funding is enough for about 15 cameras for each elementary, 20 for each middle school and 30 for each high school – about 500 cameras across 26 schools.
The 2014 Capital bond included funding for school safety improvements. The most prominent of those safety projects was refurbishing the sprawling campuses of North Middle School and Woodside Elementary School into contained buildings with clearly designated and more secure entryways. More secure entryways were planned also for four other elementary schools.
As additional funding becomes available through levies, bonds, or legislative action to obey the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision, this district will continue seeking ways to improve safety and security where our adults and children work and learn together.
Once again I share the words of a Moses Lake leader following a school shooting in that community almost 20 years ago, and that provided comfort in the aftermath of a similar tragedy.
“It will be easy enough to fall into fear … to ask ourselves how we can insulate ourselves and our children from any possible threat. We will either stand together and face that which has the potential to be so fearful, or we will fall one-by-one as victims to that fear. We as a community will need to come together, to heal together, to move forward together. All of the bars, metal detectors and security guards in the world can’t protect us. Only acting together in community with our neighbors can do that.”
Father Dennis Bosley
Moses Lake, February 1996