Every school superintendent in the Oneida Herkimer Madison BOCES District joined state lawmakers and local elected leaders at the New Hartford district office on Thursday to talk about what is arguably the most pressing, relevant topic in education today: student safety.
"Our schools are safe. We've designed them with architects to be save, but we've also designed them to be open and engaging places where parents and community feel comfortable coming in. So now, the balance becomes how do we make sure that they're schools that are engaging without being just totally locked - down facilities," said OHM BOCES Superintendent, Howard Mettelman.
In addition to gathering to discuss the topic of student safety, the superintendents are searching for equipment and products that will keep the students entrusted to them five days a week, safe.
"They do have products out there that, when applied to glass, make it that much more impenetrable for anybody who's trying to break the glass," says Whitesboro Superintendent, Dr. Brian Bellair. "Certainly we have a lot of glass in our buildlings, you look in our lobbies and our classroom windows, so we're really exploring those options to see if those are viable for us, as well. Even if it can't prevent a situation, even if in those cases it can slow a situation down and give us some time, those seconds and minutes can really be valuable."
Bellair finds himself contemplating solutions that, when he first set out to become a teacher nearly 30 years ago, he couldn't have fathomed.
"Twenty-seven years ago, certainly we had issues with respect to behavior and school safety issues, but never to the level and to the degree that we're seeing now."
The main topics at the safety summit: communication, training, personnel and technology. A primary goal: quickest possible response time to school incidents.