Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Butler Co. Schools Hold Education Institute
By Catalina Trivino

As the new school year approaches, the Butler County School system is keeping safety first.

The Butler County School system kicked off its annual Education Institute, where all school staff members are doing some last minute learning before classes start. But school officials say they've never emphasized teaching school safety as much as they are now.

"Back in the 80's, late 70's when I attended school, I never heard stories, never talked to teachers about whether I was safe or not or was concerned about safety after school," Said Butler County Superintendent, Darren Douthitt.

But he says times have changed -- the school shooting in Connecticut last December; the tornado in Oklahoma earlier this summer; and Alabama's new gun law allowing those 18 and older to carry a gun show why Douthitt says teachers in Butler County need an in-depth safety session.

"As the world changes, we have to make adjustments and that's when training comes in. Our jobs as educators is to make sure our kids are as comfortable as possible and we're to be custodial servants," Said Douthitt.

It's why nearly 400 staff members from the school system met with first responders from across the county.

As far as the new gun law, school resource officer, Malcolm Owens, says he's teaching educators to be more vigilant around their students.

"Checking chatter that they hear other students talking about in regards to a person who may or may not posess a weapon. We want them to look for bulges in the pockets and other things that would indicate that this person may have a weapon," Said Owens.

But during a weather crisis, Butler County EMA Director, Shirley Sandy, says teachers should educate their students about what to do when disaster strikes.

"And we talked about taking the drills seriously but just because it took 10 years for all those tornado drills, fire drills, whatever, it doesn't mean that that's the way it's going to happen," Said Sandy.

Sandy says in the future, she hopes to have a community shelter at each of the schools. She says the Emergency Management Agency is trying to pursue grants to get them.

Butler County School officials say they spent about $10,000 just last year in school safety equipment.

The Education Institute will continue until Wednesday.