Sunnyside schools opt out of safety, security coop

The Sunnyside School District has decided not to participate in a regional school safety and security cooperative formed by Educational Service District 105.

That’s because the school district is confident with school safety and security measures already in place, as well as services provided by its insurance carrier, said Executive Services Director Curtis Campbell.

“We compared the services and resources being offered through the cooperative with what our district is already doing in the areas of safety and security, as well as considering the training and resources that are available to us through our insurance carrier,” he said.

Campbell said Sunnyside School District officials participated in the initial meetings as the cooperative was being formed. “We decided there just wasn’t enough added benefit for our district to justify the cost of joining the cooperative at this time.”

ESD 105 last week announced the establishment of the cooperative.

Taking a new step to establish safer learning environments for students, school districts in south central Washington have united with ESD 105 this month to officially form a Regional School Safety and Security Cooperative, said officials.

Leaders from 16 school districts in Yakima, Kittitas, and Klickitat counties joined Educational Service District 105 in formalizing the new venture during an organizational meeting.

“We’re looking at an all-hazards approach,” said ESD 105 School Safety and Security Coordinator Randy Town, who will facilitate the meetings of the new multi-school co-op.

He said, “While active shooter situations get lots of attention by national media when they occur, much of our focus will be on preparing schools for things like natural disasters, fires, hostile visitors who appear to pose a threat to staff or students, or the aftermath of a crisis situation such as the death of a student or school employee.”

Town says local school leaders have been most highly interested in three common areas of safety and security at their schools: conducting walk throughs in their buildings to assess visitor access control, reviewing school crisis management plans and networking information between schools and area law enforcement and crisis response organizations. ESD 105 will help coordinate those and other services for all member school districts of the new co-op. All other local schools will be able to receive the same assistance from ESD 105 on a fee-for-service basis.

The new regional co-op advisory group includes among its members three area school superintendents, John Schieche of East Valley, John Cerna of Toppenish and Kevin Chase of Grandview.

The cooperative will also be advised by an executive committee comprised of Ian Grabenhorst, assistant superintendent for educational services at ESD 105, and school district superintendents Ric Palmer of Bickleton, Schieche of East Valley, Chase of Grandview, Monty Sabin of Kittitas and Cerna of Toppenish.

“School district superintendents have set student safety as a priority,” said Grabenhorst. “They’re the ones who said, ‘Let’s get together and involve law enforcement.’

“What is unique and innovative about this is we’re reaching out and involving higher education and emergency services, and pursuing the synergy that this can create for everyone in this effort,” Grabenhorst said.


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