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Local school officials react to last week's school shooting

The deadly shooting at Reynolds High School last week has prompted local school officials to re-emphasize procedures in place in their own districts.

District administrators said the smaller school atmosphere helps teachers and students to be proactive and report anything suspicious.

“Our emphasis on making connections with kids is key,” North Marion Superintendent Boyd Keyser said. “One of the great things about North Marion is the feeling of family and everyone belonging. If we can continue to foster that sentiment we know our campus will enjoy the safe and welcoming feeling that now permeates our schools.”

North Marion and Woodburn sent messages to staff members reiterating the district response in the case of a situation occurring on their campuses.

“We have well-rehearsed drills we do precisely, we train staff and students what to do if we get an active shooter (on a campus),” Woodburn Superintendent Chuck Ransom said. “It’s a sad statement that it’s pretty normal. We work closely with the police department. They also come to the facilities in summer and practice to familiarize themselves with entrances and hallways. So there are lots of contingency plans. They’ve spent quite a bit of time so if, God forbid, anything should happen they know where things are and they have a plan.”

Gervais Superintendent Rick Hensel said Gervais and Woodburn police would be doing a similar kind of training in the Gervais School District next month.

“This incident doesn’t change anything in terms of direct,” he said. “We’re just moving forward with what we’ve been working on the past 17 months.”

He said that includes the commonly taught practice of “Run Hide Fight”: run if you’re outside, hide if you’re inside and fight if you encounter an active shooter.

“Since Sandy Hook, we changed our approach to these situations, had numerous staff meetings and have begun working on rendezvous points for students who might be outside, talking to secretaries especially about reunification,” he said. “The gift we have is that all of our teachers know all of the students, so it’s easier to recognize if a student is acting different.”

In a district-wide email, Caleb Barnes, director of security in the North Marion School District, also focused on that proactive piece.

“We must continue to do the little things well,” he wrote. “In active shooter events there are always pre-incident indicators that precede the tragedy. These are clues of things out of the ordinary that if known beforehand can help prevent violence.”

In both North Marion and Woodburn, levy and bond measures, respectively, were rejected by voters, but would have partly affected district security measures.

“We’re talking about what do we want our schools to look like physically — like airport security, more armed SROs (school resource officers), what do we want?” Ransom said. “Is that what we want community schools to look like? The bond would have allowed for an improved line of sight (from the front office), improved electronic locking system, cameras — some things we saw as prudent and responsible. We don’t want to make school look like a prison. Schools are not designed to keep people in or out. I’m interested in working with the community to see what level of support there is in school safety, and what the community is willing to invest in.”

He said all are invited to the next school board meeting, which will include an in-depth discussion about school safety, at 7:30 p.m. June 26 in the French Prairie Middle School library, 1025 N. Boones Ferry Road.



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Woodburn

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Humidity: 41%

Wind: 6 mph

  • 2 Sep 2014

    Mostly Clear 76°F 52°F

  • 3 Sep 2014

    Partly Cloudy 76°F 52°F