North Penn School Safety Committee Advances Safety Study Schedule
LANSDALE – A school safety study is underway that could examine district-wide how the North Penn School District can improve student safety, while making up for lost time due to COVID-19.
The school board’s safe schools committee voted last week to advance a request for proposals seeking an outside firm to assess the safety of the district within an expedited timeline.
“We have already saved a number of months, going from 24 to 18,” said committee chairman Jonathan Kassa.
A formal school safety assessment is an ongoing topic of discussion for the committee and aims to build on recent efforts to create a school safety data dashboard for the public and integrate information from recent district climate surveys on physical, emotional and behavioral safety topics. In August, Safe Schools District Coordinator Chris Doerr explained how the the assessment would assess the physical security of all schools, recreation and catering areas, parking lots and surrounding neighborhoods, access control methods, lighting, cameras and recording equipment, etc., on the basis of the standards set by the State.
“We are so diverse and varied across the district, that I think it is important that this assessment include on-site observation of school safety, at all of our facilities,” Doerr said, adding that the facilities at support and transportation would be included. in the study.
“The final component of the evaluation would be a component on behavioral health: what do we have available to students, regarding mental health supports? What does our student assistance program look like? What does our threat assessment look like? All these elements of behavioral health that go hand in hand with a good school climate, ”he said.
The initial timeline for that study would have started assessments in July 2022, with a study through October of that year, and a report to the committee from November 2022 ahead of in-person security drills in the first half of 2023.
District staff reported to the committee September 27 that, based on the committee’s comments, staff refined the RFP looking for companies to conduct this assessment, to reduce the lead time by submitting it more quickly and starting assessments earlier in 2022. Instead of about two months between authorizing the publicity of the RFP in September and presenting the responses to the committee in November, this timeline would be reduced by organizing the vote to authorize in October, a calendar financial director of the district, Steve Skrocki, described as “very aggressive” .
“I’m not saying it’s insurmountable, but it’s a very, very tight timeline between the October action meeting and the November meeting on safe schools,” scheduled for October 21 and November, respectively. November 29.
State law requires these RFPs to be posted for a full three weeks, and typical deadlines typically allow vendors an extra week to prepare responses, so the updated deadline would leave us “a few days to go.” review the proposals and provide a recommendation, ”he added.
Kassa said that when he participated in responses to similar tenders, having a short deadline “limits the number of companies that can respond.”
“Typically, these will be those who are built to respond. But that doesn’t mean they’re the best companies. We want to make sure we have a level playing field, ”he said.
School board members and staff typically cancel the Safe Schools Committee meeting scheduled for December due to the holidays, Skrocki said, but a special committee meeting could be scheduled to discuss responses to the RFP only – and that would be relatively easy since these committee meetings are always online rather than in person.
Kassa added that he believed the timeline should be aimed at concluding the study in the spring of 2022, so that any changes can be made to the facilities during that summer and be ready by the fall. The committee agreed to set a target date of December 16 at 5:45 p.m. for the special Safe Schools Committee meeting to hear responses to the RFP and recommendations from staff.
The North Penn School Board will then meet at 7:00 p.m. on October 21 at North Penn High School, 1340 Valley Forge Road in Towamencin, and the Safe Schools Committee will then meet at 5:45 p.m. on October 25 virtually; For more information visit www.NPenn.org.