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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
11:16 AM Sun, Nov. 18th

Howard: PUSD off to another great school year start

In Prescott Unified School District, we have had another fabulous start to a new school year. This is because of the amazing students, staff, families, and community that we have in Prescott. We are off and running with a relevant and rigorous academic plan, while at the same time offering literally hundreds of extracurricular options to our students.

I wanted to check back with you all on school safety. It is not something that fades over time.

Six months after the Parkland tragedy, school safety is still at the top of our radar in schools across the United States. In fact, since the 1999 Columbine tragedy, school safety has been at the top of our list.

On Friday, Aug .24, I sat on a school safety panel with the superintendents from Mesa Unified, Washington Elementary, and Tucson Unified to respond to the Maricopa County attorney, Maricopa county sheriff, the governor’s council on school safety, and the Chandler chief of police.

This was a robust discussion, sponsored by Arizona Business and Education Coalition (ABEC), talking about how we can all work together to make schools safer through school resource officers (SROs), emotional support staff, and physical campus layout upgrades.

Although the governor’s school safety plan was not approved by the legislature last spring, there is hope that it will be revisited this next year. What was very apparent was that businesses, schools, and government in Arizona want to work together to support safer schools. I am very encouraged that this is an issue that is important to all.

We certainly have that same interest in school safety, as well as ongoing discussion for how to be as safe as possible, right here in the most supportive community anywhere –Prescott, Arizona. After the tragedy in February, many of our community members stepped up with ideas and offers to help.

This has led to ideas and great communication about what we do to ensure our school safety. We have been meeting with representatives from local business and industry who have offered to also be a part of the solution.

We are talking with them about ways to sustain our school resource officer funding, assess and improve our physical campus layouts, and even offering a school safety fair to inform our community.

Future meetings are being planned with more players at the table, including representatives from our own police and fire departments.

Speaking of police and fire, our own Prescott police and fire departments held an active shooter training at Yavapai College two weeks ago. This is a great example of our partnerships in Prescott.

I was invited to observe this process by following along during the drill. It was fascinating to watch our amazing officers and fire personnel work together.

This helped me to apply a sense of reality to a situation that we hope never happens, but must never rest thinking that it could not happen. We have future plans to bring principals in so that they can see this in action as well. While emergency response is one of the toughest scenarios that we have to think about, it is our true obligation to make sure that our students are as safe as possible.

I feel blessed and confident that this community is doing all that we can for every child, every day.