Two representatives from the Owensboro Public Schools district will be providing information Wednesday, Jan. 22 to the Kentucky House of Representatives Budget Review Subcommittee on Secondary Education about what the district does in terms of safety measures.
Jared Revlett, OPS spokesperson, and Chris Gaddis, OPS director of transportation and security operations, will be presenting at the Capitol Annex along with representatives from Fayette County Public Schools and Paducah Independent Schools.
Both Revlett and Gaddis surmise the invitation to speak to the subcommittee is largely so the group can prioritize what portions of the School Safety and Resiliency Act, formerly referred to as Senate Bill 1 that was passed during the 2019 General Assembly, need the most attention and where dollars can be better spent.
Gaddis said there has not yet been any funding set aside for the Act, and the subcommittee is bringing in school districts that already have things in place to get their opinions about where the most need is.
“We have a strong feeling that (we were invited) because we are a district that adopted CrisisGo as our communication platform, in the event of an alert,” Gaddis said.
The CrisisGo app, which was officially unveiled in August, streamlines the communication for any type of school crisis, according to Revlett, from active shooters or weather events to events happening in neighborhoods around schools.
The app allows teachers to communicate directly with other teachers, members of the OPS safety committees or emergency personnel if something goes awry during the course of the school day. The app also allows them to take attendance, so in the event students are separated from their classes, emergency personnel will have access to that student data if needed.
Following the Marshall County High School shooting in early 2018, OPS began looking at how they could improve safety measures. The district partnered with the Daviess County Sheriff’s Department for active shooter training, and through that process, they learned that the four-to-five minute window between a crisis event and emergency officials arriving was something they needed to shorten.
“From there, we explored the option of how can we communicate better with everyone, how can we go from there,” Revlett said.
Gaddis said there are only a handful of districts across Kentucky currently using the CrisisGo app. It was purchased by OPS in a three-year contract for $10,000 per year. The funds used to purchase it were drawn from the Safe Schools Funds all districts in Kentucky receive.
“We have received Safe Schools money annually for the past few years,” Gaddis said. “It’s never been a lot, and it’s up to the district to determine how it’s spent. Once (the School Safety and Resiliency Act) passed, that brought a whole other dimension into this. It would take millions to fund (the Act) across the state of Kentucky.”
What OPS and the other two districts are presenting to the subcommittee will give legislators a look at what can be done and where money can go, Gaddis said.
Bobbie Hayse, firstname.lastname@example.org, 270-691-7315