Park Hill hires safety firm for audit

The Park Hill Board of Education has selected a national risk management firm to complete an assessment of safety and security in the District. Last week, the Board unanimously approved a proposal from SafePlans at a cost of about $50,000. Though this was not the lowest-cost proposal received — which came from the Missouri School Boards Association (MSBA) — according to Director of Student Services Josh Colvin, SafePlans’ track record impressed District staff. MSBA’s program is based on the one offered by SafePlans, Colvin said, but lacks the same features. After several safety and security incidents over the last several months, including “stranger danger” incidents and a Park Hill High School student who carried a gun to school, both the District and the community have questioned District preparedness for disasters.

The safety and security assessment will cover all potential hazards, including weather-related, hazmat and regional hazards including industrial accidents, chemical spills and other man-made disasters. This is a feature which also put SafePlans ahead of the competition, according to Colvin.

Board member Susan Newberger, who later made the motion to approve the contract with SafePlans, asked if Colvin had contacted any other local districts who had used the company’s assessment program. The Omaha, Neb. School District gave SafePlans the best reference, he said, and had pointed out the effectiveness of including regional planning.

During consultations with local law enforcement, Colvin said authorities were pleased at the prospect of creating plans that could be aligned across the District and with all involved first-responders, with continuity across all municipalities within the District.

“I believe the staff has put together safety plans to the best of their abilities, but they may not be able to see the gaps in their plans,” Newberger said.