Some Florida districts consider hiring lower-paid ‘guardians’ to keep schools safe

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Five-year recurring $20,000 donation to fund school safety programs in Maryland

 

Baltimore, Md. – May 8, 2018Building for God Community Foundation today welcomed Safe and Sound Schools and its Maryland Safety Initiative in to the Champion in Life Partnership Program in recognition of Safe and Sound Schools’ ongoing efforts to help communicate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from school-based crises.

As a Champion in Life Partner, Safe and Sound Schools will receive a $20,000 recurring grant award, matching individual, corporate, and foundation gifts for five years. With this funding, Safe and Sound Schools will continue and expand its Maryland Safety Initiative program with dedicated trainings, workshops, and education programs exclusively for Maryland school districts. In its State of School Safety 2018 report, Safe and Sound Schools found that nearly all parents and educators surveyed want their school to take extra steps in school security, but don’t necessarily have the expertise, resources, or training available. The Maryland Safety Initiative program, funded by the Building for God Community Foundation, directly addresses this need for all the families in Maryland.

“Tapping into the knowledge from the Safe and Sound Schools team of national experts will help strengthen our schools’ abilities to guard against a wide variety of threats,” said Michael O. Brooks, Chairman and CEO of Building for God Community Foundation. “With a recurring grant, we can be true collaborators, working together, year over year, to positively and measurably change the lives of students, teachers, staff, parents, and administrators in our schools throughout our entire state.”

Safe and Sound Schools Maryland Safety Initiative will reach 12 districts, covering 600 elementary, middle and high schools, with the power to impact 400,000 students.

“Building for God Community Foundation is a true leader in the community, giving its resources to selflessly support Maryland schools,” said Michele Gay, executive director and co-founder of Safe and Sound Schools. “We are grateful for the opportunity to invest further in the Maryland Safety Initiative, rolling out new programs to help our schools tackle the challenge of school safety in a meaningful way, with lasting impact.”

The $20,000 grant award will match individual donations, as well as corporate and foundation gifts. To make a donation, visit www.safeandsoundschools.org/support/donate/. For more information about Safe and Sound Schools, including free assessment tools, tool kits and resources, visit www.safeandsoundschools.org.

For more information on Building for God Community Foundation, its programs and events, the Champion in Life Partnership Program, and the local nonprofits the Foundation supports, visit www.bfgcommunityfoundation.org.

 

About Safe and Sound Schools

Founded in 2013, Safe and Sound Schools works with school communities and mental health, law enforcement, and safety professionals to create and ensure the safest possible learning environment for all youth. The non-profit organization, started by parents who lost their children in the tragedy at Sandy Hook, delivers crisis-prevention, response, and recovery programs, tools, and resources, backed by national experts, to educate all members of the school community, from students and parents, to teachers and administrators, to law enforcement and local leaders. Winner of the 2015 SBANE New England Innovation Award for nonprofits, Safe and Sound Schools continues to answer the growing needs of school communities with custom programs, assessments, and training, reaching schools in nearly every state in the country. For more information, visit www.safeandsoundschools.org.

 

About Building for God Community Foundation

Founded in 2007, Building for God Community Foundation’s mission is to affect a positive and determined impact in our local community in the areas of sheltering the homeless, feeding and caring for families, fostering the educational needs of our youth, and supporting those who protect our community. Built on the idea that life’s purpose is to serve, love, and care for the needs of others. Since its founding, Building for God Community Foundation as supported many local nonprofits through its Champion in Life Grant Award, which distributes grant funds to support deserving organizations in our community. For more information, visit www.bfgcommunityfoundation.org.

 

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May marks the fifth anniversary of our organization’s start, and it was important to us to mark the occasion with something meaningful to show our progress and highlight opportunities for improvement in school safety. True to our mission, we wanted to create something useful and practical, with the potential for immediate benefit to communities throughout the country.

From this need, we developed the idea to issue a report on “The State of School Safety” to provide insights and bring to light perspectives from parents, students, educators (teachers, administrators, staff, mental wellness professionals, and SROs), and the general public. After all, school safety isn’t one person’s job – we all share in the responsibility to keep our students safe.

In addition, as you know, the Straight-A Safety Improvement model starts with “assess” as the first step. The State of School Safety Report is an assessment of sorts… the first collective step we took on behalf of school communities throughout the country. Let’s face it, if we don’t have a good handle on what is going on, how can we really address it?

The State of School Safety Report illustrates several school safety issues communities need to address, such as communication between educators and other stakeholders (particularly parents and students), student dissatisfaction with current safety conversations and actions at their schools, the need to broaden our current narrow view of safety issues and gain more input from the entire school community, and finally, dive deeper into the unique challenges of smaller schools.

We know there is no one-size-fits-all approach to school safety, but we hope you can use this report to start a conversation in your community. See if our national findings ring true for your school, or if your specific school community has other school safety priorities. You can read a summary of the research in our press release, or download the full report at www.safeandsoundschools.org/research. Thank you for all you do to improve the safety in our schools.


We know that you, too, are committed to the safety of the entire school community – where your child, or a child you know, goes to school – and beyond. If you have never supported our sweeping efforts to address the safety of schools across the complete spectrum, and in ways that reach every single school community, would you consider doing so today? A donation in any amount sustains our mission of making all of our schools safe and sound. If you would like to make a donation to help us mark our fifth anniversary, you can do so by clicking the button below. Thank you.

[button link=”https://www.safeandsoundschools.org/donate” color=”silver”] DONATE TODAY[/button]

  • Students are dissatisfied with the state of school safety and see it very differently from educators and parents.
  • Our current state of readiness against safety threats is too narrow, with not enough input from the entire school community.
  • A difference in safety perceptions exists among schools with fewer than 500 students.

NEWTOWN, Conn.—May 7, 2018—Safe and Sound Schools (SASS), a nonprofit organization that delivers crisis-prevention, response and recovery programs for schools, today published its “State of School Safety Report 2018,” the results of its first-ever survey exploring perceptions of safety at schools among parents, students, educators, and the general public. The findings outline perceptions among stakeholders, and looks at the current state of threats, from threats received to future threats, as well as preparedness for those safety risks.

The first major finding of the survey is that a substantial communication gap exists between educators and other stakeholders, namely parents and students. Educators are more confident in their overall preparedness, safety and ability to handle a wide array of safety threats, perceived shortcomings, expertise and communications than other stakeholder groups. This confidence, however, translates into a knowledge gap for others in the school community.

“The State of School Safety survey points to the need for educators and administrators to focus on simple, honest communication to parents and students, and listen more to their concerns and feedback,” said Michele Gay, executive director and co-founder of Safe and Sound Schools. “Opening up avenues for communication will empower school communities to bring to light additional vulnerabilities and solutions, speed up implementation of safety initiatives and reduce anxiety associated with lack of knowledge.”

In this figure from the State of School Safety Report, we see educators report higher levels of feeling “extremely or very safe” with their level of preparedness for any safety incident, as compared to parents, students, and the general community.

Additional survey highlights include:

  • Students deserve a seat at the school-safety table. Only half of students surveyed feel safe when they are at school. Students also believe their school is in denial that it could be in danger, and more than half of students surveyed think there is a lack of awareness about school safety issues and that their school has a false sense of security that things happening around the country couldn’t happen in their school.
  • Threat assessment must be broadened beyond school-based shootings to include other common threats to school safety. These include bullying, weather, physical abuse, suicide, and racially- or minority-focused vandalism. All four respondent groups reported having seen more of these threats than other threats.
  • Schools need to involve a team of experts in planning. When asked who is responsible for school safety in their communities, parents, students, educators and general community members had different rankings, assigning different levels of accountability among the wide range of school safety stakeholders. By bringing together experts in mental health and wellness, school resource officers, public safety officials, students, parents and school-based teachers and staff, school communities can garner greater awareness for what is working—and what is not—in school safety.
  • A difference in safety perceptions exists among schools with fewer than 500 students. Educators at small schools—those with fewer than 500 students—report that students feel safe at school at a higher rate than their peers at larger schools. However, students at smaller schools are also less aware of their schools’ safety team and report constrained financial resources.

Michele Gay and Alissa Parker founded Safe and Sound Schools on May 3, 2013, after their respective daughters, Josephine Gay and Emilie Parker, were killed in the tragic Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Conn. The State of School Safety Report marks the fifth anniversary of the organization’s founding, and highlights progress made and opportunities for improvement in school safety. The survey, conducted in early 2018, received 2,872 respondents across four main stakeholder groups: parents of students, students in middle or high school, educators (teachers and other professionals working in schools), and the public at large.

“We live in a climate of anxiety, fear and frustration when it comes to school safety, yet the people who matter most aren’t necessarily heard from,” said Alissa Parker, co-founder of SASS. “Our report has the power to be incredibly instructive for schools across the U.S., as we’ve identified opportunities for near-term improvements. Most important, it shows that we need to give teachers, students, educators and communities the space to bring their insight and ideas to the table in conversations about their school safety plans. By improving communication among a wider range of stakeholders, we can inherently improve our expertise and training.”

Safe and Sound Schools will continue its work to improve overall awareness and resources supporting crisis prevention, response and recovery for improved school safety. To read the full report, please visit the Safe and Sound Schools research page: www.safeandsoundschools.org/research.

About Safe and Sound Schools

Founded in 2013, Safe and Sound Schools works with school communities and mental health, law enforcement, and safety professionals to create and ensure the safest possible learning environment for all youth. The non-profit organization, started by parents who lost their children in the tragedy at Sandy Hook, delivers crisis-prevention, response, and recovery programs, tools, and resources, backed by national experts, to educate all members of the school community, from students and parents, to teachers and administrators, to law enforcement and local leaders. Winner of the 2015 SBANE New England Innovation Award for nonprofits, Safe and Sound Schools continues to answer the growing needs of school communities with custom programs, assessments, and training, reaching schools in every state in the country. For more information, visit www.safeandsoundschools.org.

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When I sat down to talk with John McDonald, a nationally-recognized school security expert, I knew I had to share some of his thoughts and lessons with you. So I recorded our conversation and edited down some key points for you. This is the first conversation in a series we’re calling “The Sound Off.” More on that later this year…

Back to John. This man is quite simply, incredible.

Even though John joined Jefferson County after the Columbine shooting, he has endured three horrendous experiences… things we hope nobody else has to go through… one abduction and two shootings. Suffice it to say, we can all learn from John. He has so much experience, working for 10-plus years in his community, honing communications, processes, and overall security. He knows what works, and what doesn’t.

Sure, John’s commitment to his school community is impressive. But his accomplishments highlight the importance of having someone dedicated to school safety. From the assessments, training, and ongoing discussions he drives, John is involving the whole community and changing perceptions about school safety.

We all thank you, John, for all you do to keep these school communities safe. You are a beacon of strength, a foundation of hope, and thread of connection helping to keep your community strong.


Alissa Parker, Co-founder of Safe and Sound Schools