Keeping schools safer

LISBON – The school district has taken advantage of a software program that can provide police and fire departments with access to the building security surveillance system in the event of an emergency.

According to Superintendent Don Thompson, the NaviGate Prepared interactive software program allows for storage of all school safety plan information, such as floor plans, emergency exits, location of surveillance cameras, etc, along with contact information of school personnel and emergency first responders, such as the police and fire departments.

Armed with a password, administrators and first responders can access NaviGate through the Internet during an emergency at the school. It provides a layout of the school grounds, and first responders can also monitor the surveillance system to assess what is going on.

Thompson said their safety plan has been around for years and this is part of their ongoing efforts to update the plan, especially in the wake of last year’s school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

He said they already met with Police Chief Mike Abraham, Fire Chief Dave Lewton and county Emergency Management Agency Director Luke Newbold to review NaviGate, and all three have been given passwords to access the system in case of an emergency.

“We all hope we never have to use the program,” but at least the district will be better prepared, Thompson said.

In related news, the district received a $4,000 state grant to upgrade the digital camera surveillance systems at the elementary and junior/high school buildings to provide video in real time.

Thompson and board President Jim Smith took time to thank board member Jeff Elliott, who was attending his last meeting after choosing not to seek another term in the November election. He will be replaced in January by T.K. Hiscox.

Thompson thanked Elliott for “all of the hard work you put in on behalf of the students.”

The sentiment was echoed by Smith. “Everyone brings something different to the board,” he said, and the differing opinions sometimes offered by Elliott made for “a stronger board and school district.”

Smith noted that Elliott was the driving force behind the first-ever drug testing policy implemented at the start of the 2012-13 school year.

Elliott thanked his colleagues for the kind remarks. “I feel honored to have worked with such a group of people,” he said.

Elliott described Thompson and treasurer Cindy Shultz as one of top administrative teams in Ohio. “You’re probably the best superintendent in the state of Ohio,” he told Thompson, adding, “You’re tough, but you’re good.”