As we complete our
first semester of the school year and prepare to enter the holiday season, I
want to take this time to thank you for all you have done and continue to do to
make Cherokee County Schools one of the best school districts in the Nation. We
have accomplished much as a district and will continue to do great things,
because of you.
As we prepare to spend
time with our family and friends, we know that many of our family members will
be able to be with us as we celebrate, while others will only be able to be
with us in spirit. We have brothers and sisters and fathers and mothers who are
serving our country around the world, some facing war and some who have already
given the ultimate sacrifice. Those we will remember. We also have a heavy
heart knowing that the community of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown,
Connecticut will be forever shaken by the tragedy that recently unfolded. We
ask ourselves could that happen here in Cherokee County, and if we answer
honestly, we know it could.
So what are we doing
to deter the likelihood that this could occur in our community? First, we have
developed an outstanding Emergency Action Plan (EAP) that has been created to
address procedures for any situation that we believe might occur. Our EAP has
been developed in conjunction with experts in the emergency response field,
including law enforcement agencies, fire departments, medical authorities,
emergency management service personnel with input from our school resource
(SRO) officers, principals, central office administrators, counselors, nurses,
teachers, and social workers. Second, along with monthly fire drills, our
school board has adopted policy requiring each school to rehearse an active
shooter scenario at least once per semester. These drills are practiced in
collaboration with local and often state level law enforcement. Our elementary
and middle schools have limited school access to single points of entry, while
remain locked at all times with video surveillance and buzzer entry systems.
Schools have begun deploying video camera surveillance campus wide and are
looking to continue to expand these systems. Third, we believe in the
continuous improvement model; we have asked our principals to work with their
faculty and staff to review various scenarios inside the school that they
foresee based on the unique characteristics of their buildings and grounds.
Finally, while we are proud of all the academic achievements we have obtained, we know
there is nothing more important than the safety of our children. While our
resources may be limited, we will continue working together to maximize their
effectiveness with school safety measures foremost in mind. I have found the best
ideas often come from those who are closest to the situation. So I encourage
you to communicate with your principal and/or with me about any ideas or
suggestions you may have.
In closing, I again
personally thank you for all that you have done to make Cherokee County Schools
a safe, inviting place for staff to work and children to learn. I wish you a
very Merry Christmas. I hope this will be a restful, relaxing, and enriching
holiday season for each of you.
Stephen E. Lane, Ed.D.