Schools re-evaluate safety procedures

Active shooter training, lockdown drills planned

SOUTH COUNTY — Gonzales, Soledad, Greenfield and King City school districts are working on changing safety procedures to ensure student safety.

After the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Monterey County Superintendent Nancy Kotowski sent out an email to all the superintendents in the district encouraging them to schedule monthly lockdown drills that focus on options-based response strategies.

In the Gonzales Unified School District, administrators, management, office staff and a board member participated in Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evaluate (ALICE) training on March 20. According to Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Mary Dawson, four police officers from the City of Gonzales were part of the training as well.

“Staff really appreciated getting the information,” Dawson said.

The next training was scheduled for March 27 with the same group of staff members participating in tabletop exercises and site review. Dawson is one of three staff members at the Gonzales school district who have been certified to train in the ALICE program.

“It seems like every time there’s a shooting it gets analyzed and what happened gets assessed,” said South Monterey County Joint Union High School District Superintendent Brian Walker. “We get new information and new feedback. What we should do, how we should prepare, and what we should train for. It’s kind of an evolving, ongoing system onto itself.”

Walker said the shooting in Florida brought up a new problem with the fire alarm being pulled.

“Each one of the ALICE steps requires something on a school official or someone at the school to do in response to having an active shooter,” Walker said. “You could do an ALICE sequence for other emergencies, but the one we’re focused on is active shooters.”

South Monterey County Joint Union High School District, which oversees Greenfield and King City high schools as well as Portola Butler High School, are planning to bring in its own ALICE trainer to train school staff in the program. Both campuses added a school dean, another counselor, two security staff from an outside company and a local officer.

Greenfield High School has an armed resource officer from the Greenfield Police Department, and King City High School has an armed probation officer from the Monterey County Probation Department.

Soledad Unified School District Superintendent Tim Vanoli reported that several staff members will go through the ALICE training program.

“We’re going to continue to roll out training to all of our staff for the remainder of the school year,” Vanoli said. “We will put our plans in place, as we speak, to ensure that all of our schools, staff and kids are safe everyday at school.”

Soledad currently has a school resource officer and one counselor at Main Street Middle School and Soledad High School for mental health.

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