School Safety Frequently Asked Questions
What is Gull Lake Community Schools’ philosophy on school safety?
Gull Lake Community Schools believes that a safe school district is the result of a coordinated, collaborative effort with all district stakeholders — local law-enforcement, emergency responders, community members, district staff, parents, and most importantly, students. We are proactively engaging these stakeholders to create a safe and productive learning environment throughout our district.
What types of measures is Gull Lake Community Schools taking to ensure a safe school district?
Gull Lake Community Schools has focused its school safety efforts into four key areas:
- Training and Education
- Community Partnerships
What is being done to make Gull Lake’s school buildings safe and secure?
Thanks to our community’s support of the May 2012 bond proposal, every school building in the district will have a secure vestibule by the start of the 2013-14 school year. The vestibules ensure that any visitors to our school buildings during the day enter and exit through the main office, where they are required to sign-in.
The 2012 bond proposal also played a key role in the installation of new door and hardware packages around the exterior of Gull Lake Middle School. Old doors were upgraded, with improved locking mechanisms and new electronic key card access.
Finally, thorough facility walk-throughs have been conducted in each district building under the supervision of the district’s Safety Committee and local law enforcement. The walk-throughs have drastically improved staff awareness of ensuring interior classroom doors are locked during the school day, in the event of an emergency. The walk-throughs have also helped building administrators ensure that all exterior doors are locked and secured at all times during school hours.
What systems are in place that promote school safety?
In conjunction with having new, secure vestibules in every district building for the start of the 2013-14 school year, any visitor to a district building must sign in with the building’s front office staff before being approved to enter the building. Sign in and sign out records are monitored throughout the school day. Upon sign in, the visitor receives an office guest pass, which is to be returned when the visitor departs the building and signs out.
Along the same lines of visitor sign in and sign out policies, all classroom volunteers are required, by district policy, to complete and pass a background check, to ensure building safety. In addition, teachers, support staff, and students are being trained to report any unfamiliar adults in the building, who are not wearing a guest pass, to the main office or the building’s administrator.
Also in conjunction with new secure vestibules, a new electronic key card access system is being implemented throughout the district. District staff members each possess key cards that give them access to the appropriate building(s). Each time a staff member uses their key card to unlock and enter a locked door in a school building, the key card system tracks who entered the building, when they entered, and how long they stayed before exiting the building.
Finally, each school bus in the district, and multiple buildings in the district, are equipped with video security cameras. Building cameras are both inside each building, as well as around the external premises. Bus cameras are located in the front of each bus, near the driver. The cameras are continuously recording surveillance footage, which is accessible to the appropriate district administrators and staff members to ensure building and transportation safety.
How does training and education improve school safety?
Gull Lake Community Schools believes that students and staff will only respond as they are trained. Thus, ongoing safety and crisis response training of both staff and students is essential and has been the focal point of our investment in a safe school environment. In particular, our district’s training has focused on the first 5 minutes during a crisis, which is a critical time of action, before local law enforcement and emergency personnel can arrive on the scene.
In addition, the Gull Lake Youth Depression Committee and the Gull Lake Health and Wellness Committee are proactively working to promote mental-health and educational initiatives that may impact school safety. These initiatives include anti-bullying programs, depression awareness programs, and regular “Bright Night” events, which bring experts in mental health, physical health, and social wellness to Gull Lake’s campus.
What safety training has taken place at Gull Lake?
Every Gull Lake Community Schools employee participated in an intensive, 2-day safety training program in August 2012, led by former Michigan State Police Officer, and current Gull Lake Community Schools parent, Eric Wimbley. This intensive training was made possible through a grant partnership with the Gull Lake Community Schools Foundation. The program included a general school safety session, and then a building specific-session focused on student and staff responses in the event of an intruder.
In addition to the intensive training, the Gull Lake Community Schools’ Safety Committee visits 2 staff meetings at each building throughout the school year to review training, best First Aid practices, and to present DVD safety response scenarios to staff. Also, First Responders have been identified in each district building to help take the lead in the event of a crisis.
Gull Lake students are currently participating in safety response training, which remains ongoing. Students will be participating in several scenario-based training modules, including:
- What to do if a strange adult is seen at a door or in the hallways
- What to do if a lock-down situation occurs and the student is in the hallway, bathroom, or cafeteria, and not in a classroom
- What to do if an active threat situation arises and the student is in the hallway, or in the same room as the threat
Finally, regular drills for weather emergencies, fires, and lockdowns are an important aspect of both staff and student safety training. Each district building regularly practices each type of drill to ensure staff and students know where to go, what to do, and how to respond—doing so in a timely and orderly fashion.
What community partnerships has Gull Lake Community Schools established to enhance school safety?
The Gull Lake Community Schools’ Safety Committee—a group of district leaders, staff members,parents, and local law enforcement and safety personnel—has been instrumental in building community partnerships that ensure safe schools. The Safety Committee meets monthly and has greatly enhanced communication and collaboration with school staff, parents, local police, local fire department personnel, and the Kalamazoo County Sherriff’s Office.
Thanks to the committee’s efforts and partnership with local law enforcement and MDOT, there has been installation of a School Zone Speed Limit Enforcement area in front of Richland Elementary School and Gull Lake Middle School on M-89. Flashing signs remind motorists of the school zone limits during the starting and ending times of each school day.
Along with the School Zone Speed Limit, the Safety Committee’s efforts have resulted in an increased law enforcement presence on Gull Lake’s school grounds. Local Richland police, as well as the Kalamazoo County Sherriff’s Office, have partnered with the district to ensure safe driving on school property, as well as on the roads surrounding the district’s campus.
Finally, Gull Lake Community Schools is also an active participant in SIRENS—a Kalamazoo area law enforcement notification system. Any time a Gull Lake student is involved in a legal situation, and the district is entitled to know specific information, the SIRENS system sends email notification to the appropriate district administrators. This allows Gull Lake staff to further collaborate with local law enforcement to help and serve students.
Where can I learn more information about district safety measures?
For more information, community members can visit www.gulllakecs.org, call 269-548-3400, follow ‘Gull Lake Community Schools’ on Facebook, or follow ‘@glbluedevils’ on Twitter.