District provides safety and security updates to community

About 130 Fayetteville-Manlius School District community members shared concerns, asked questions and learned more about district safety and security initiatives during two recent district forums.

“We appreciate so many people taking time out of their busy schedules to meet and discuss this critical topic,” Superintendent Craig J. Tice said. “We are compiling the feedback from both events so that as we move forward, the information can be included in our discussions.”

The forums were held March 22 and 27 during special F-M Board of Education meetings due to a quorum of the board planning to be present at each event. Attendees were broken up into small groups and discussed strengths and weaknesses of the district’s current security measures and possible short- and long-term enhancements.

The district will be hiring an outside organization to conduct a district-wide safety audit, Dr. Tice said, and the audit findings, along with forum feedback, will be given to a safety and security task force that will be made up of representatives from across the district, including community members. Anyone interested in applying to be a part of the task force may contact District Clerk Sarah Gridley at sgridley@fmschools.org.

The task force will be tasked with prioritizing long-term safety measures to be put in place and then make an action recommendation to the board.

In recent years, the district has taken steps to increase the safety and security of its buildings, including designating single-point of entries at all school buildings, locking school building doors during regular school hours and hiring two full-time Manlius police officers to serve the district as school resource officers.

“We’ve done a lot, but we know we cannot become complacent when it comes to the safety of our staff and students,” Dr. Tice said. “That’s where security experts, law enforcement officials, parents, students, staff and community members can help us become even better.”

Some of the feedback during the safety forums included hiring more mental health professionals and increasing the number of school resource officers serving the district.

As part of the preliminary 2018-19 budget, administrators have included about $564,000 for additional safety and security enhancements, such as more security cameras, a third school resource officer and more school social workers. Increased technology is proposed to facilitate faster communication within district buildings and between district vehicles and the transportation department.

Additional staff training is proposed for the 2018-19 school year to build upon trainings that have already taken place. During the 2016-17 school year, staff completed level one active shooter training, and on March 29, the district held its annual go home early drill on a half-day schedule so that all staff could participate in level two training, which focused on what employees should do in the event of an active shooter in a district building.

“School should be a safe place where teachers can focus on teaching and students focus on learning,” Dr. Tice said. “Ensuring that we have the proper procedures, tools and plans in place will go a long way in that regard. We encourage the community to continue reaching out to us with questions or concerns. We are all in this together, and, as such, we need to work together and have open lines of communication.”