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December 18, 2012

Local schools address concerns following tragedy

PLATTSBURGH — With the recent Connecticut school shooting weighing heavily on their hearts, local school officials focus on the safety and well-being of their own students.

“This type of tragedy is what we all pray never happens in our schools and hope that if it does, we are prepared to make decisions that ensure the safety of all our communities’ children,” said Peru Intermediate School Principal Scott Storms.

As news of the tragic events spread throughout the nation last Friday, many area school leaders made plans to review their districts’ safety procedures with faculty and staff.

“Having an opportunity to periodically revisit our plans assures that everyone is familiar with the procedures,” Storms said.

The challenge, according to Lake Placid Central School District Superintendent Dr. Randy Richards, is inherent: how to best provide safety in buildings — schools — that were designed for open public access.

While district safety plans are reliable and sound, according to Saranac Central Superintendent Kenneth Cringle, “the critical factor is that staff must remain vigilant in their efforts to recognize any threat to the school community.”

The ability to recognize potential threats before they come to fruition is an important component to school safety, agreed Kevin Hulbert, principal of Keeseville Elementary School.

“This event will remind us to be even more vigilant when it comes to recognizing and becoming aware of signs of emotional stress and mental illness in our students and visitors,” Hulbert said.

“Additionally, we will be even more heedful when it comes to following all of our procedures that are in place to keep everyone safe.”

FUNDING SAFETY

Such procedures should also be continually evaluated and adjusted, said Chazy Elementary Principal Thomas Tregan.

“Changes are inevitable,” he said. “We will focus on the obvious, as well as the ‘what ifs,’ as we re-evaluate our procedures.”

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