SANDPOINT — School security improvements have come a long way in the past couple months, according to Lake Pend Oreille School District Superintendent Shawn Woodward.
A beacon alert system, additional school resource officer support, rigorous safety inspections and more mental health services are just a few of the improvements either recently or soon to be implemented, Woodward said.
One of the biggest changes recently introduced is a new school resource officer for Clark Fork High School, Woodward said. Bonner County Sheriff’s Deputy Nate Herbig recently came aboard part-time to assist the school similarly to the Sandpoint police officer stationed at Sandpoint High School.
“It’s actually been a really, really positive (response) over here,” Clark Fork High School Principal Phil Kemink said.
According to Woodward, the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office has been very generous and accommodating throughout the process. So far, the office hasn’t sent the district any invoices for their efforts in Clark Fork, he said. Herbig will remain as a part-time officer for the remainder of the school year. Next year, the district plans to introduce a full-time resource officer with a salary paid for by both the sheriff’s office and district, Woodward added. The arrangement would be similar to the system in effect with the Sandpoint Police Department.
“I continue to be thrilled with our relationship with the Bonner County Sheriff’s department,” Woodward said.
The district is also finalizing arrangements with Kaniksu Health Services for additional mental health support. The arrangement will provide the district with a highly-educated social worker qualified to take on more serious cases, Woodward said.
“Speaking from my experience as a principal, you definitely always have certain kids you’re really concerned about,” Woodward said.
Those kids will receive additional support from the contracted therapist, who will be paid on a per-encounter basis at about $60 a session. On that basis, Woodward believes the school should receive a lot of value for its money.
“Doing the math, it works out really well for us,” he said.
Each of LPOSD’s 11 schools now have a fully-functioning safety and security team this year identifying their facility’s vulnerable points. In addition, Woodward hopes to have each facility inspected by a state team to ensure a well-oiled threat response system.
Finally, each school will soon have a beacon alert system installed within the next couple of weeks. These systems use flashing lights to alert students, staff and residents outside a building that the school is under lockdown.