School Business Affairs January 2019 SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS | JANUARY 2019 5 U nfortunately, our society is facing the problem of ever-increasing vio- lence. It’s especially concerning that institutions such as places of wor- ship, daycare facilities, and schools, that have been relatively immune to acts of violence in the past, are now being targeted. All students need a safe learning environ- ment as they focus on acquiring the skills they need for a successful and productive future. Research shows that students who feel unsafe at school suffer academically and are at risk for delinquency and drug use. When the threat of violence is part of the educational setting, all students are affected in some way, even indirectly. Protecting our students and staff from harm is one of our highest priorities. This effort requires leadership and coordination by school administration, and involvement and participation from all sectors of the school community. As a school business official and key leader in your school district, you play an important role in helping foster a culture that is commit- ted to providing a safe environment for the students and staff in your district. Whether you are directly responsible for overseeing safety or serve as a member of your district’s school safety committee or crisis response team, you are a critical part of this effort. As we formulate plans of action, no “one- size-fits-all” or “one-and-done” approach works for providing safety in our schools. To be effective, a school safety commitment incor- porates these crucial elements: • Stakeholder involvement and engagement, including local emergency responders, students, school and district staff, parents, local emergency management, hospital rep- resentatives, and mental health providers. • A comprehensive, National Incident Man- agement System (NIMS)-based safety plan and policies and procedures that include prevention/mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery components. • Appropriate physical improvements to the facilities, equipment, and systems that address safety needs or issues identified through a comprehensive safety and secu- rity risk assessment process. • A climate or culture that values, promotes, and develops healthy, positive relation- ships with and between students, staff, and parents. All of these elements are important, but positive school climate is the foundation for building an effective school safety plan. This includes building positive relationships across schools, the district, and the community, fos- tering a safe supportive learning environment and student connection, and working together with one common mission. School is one of the most important stabiliz- ing forces in the lives of young people, second only to family. In fact, school can be the sta- bilizing force for students who have chaotic home lives. Therefore, it is a natural setting to foster positive relationships among students, adults in the school and community, family members, and peers. While the time and resources required to provide safe schools can be significant, the investment far outweighs the risk of the poten- tial for violence. Rallying around the effort to improve school safety is an excellent oppor- tunity to bring members of our communities together. Our students are our future—we cannot afford anything less than our best effort to help protect them from harm! Working Together to Improve School Safety By Tom Wohlleber, CSRM president’s message Tom Wohlleber Chief Financial Officer Casa Grande (Arizona) Elementary School District Charles E. Peterson, Jr. MBA, PRSBA, SFO Immediate Past President Marvin Dereef Jr., SFO Director through 2020 Bill Sutter, SFO Director through 2020 Michael Johnston Director through 2019 Angela Von Essen Director through 2019 2019 Board of Directors WORKING TOGETHER to ma ke a difference Claire Hertz, CSBA, SFO Vice President Susan Harkin Director through 2021 John Hutchison, CPA, SFO Director through 2021