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Emergency, Safety, and Security for Today’s Schools---It Takes a Village
Keeping Schools Safe SignYou have no doubt heard of the recent school shooting in Florida as well as the numerous copycat threats that have spread across many states and even here in the Panhandle.  The safety of students and staff is paramount for schools and is a topic of many conversations across America.  Pampa is by most standards considered a safe, rural community with good people and solid values.  However, we are not immune to the issues of our society.  We were reminded of this last week when we had an incident at Pampa Junior High School.  Fortunately, the incident was not threatening in any way to our students, but for a very brief time----we were faced with the possibility that “it could happen here.” 


The Pampa ISD has intensified our efforts over the past two years to include an extensive and well-thought out emergency crisis plan that includes ongoing protocols for safety and security.  Our Director of Student Services, Stuart Smith, reviewed these plans with our School Board both in September 2017 as well as at the board meeting on February 26, 2018.  I am beyond relieved that the incident at PJHS was non-threatening; however, it did provide us with the opportunity to test our procedures and staff in a potentially crucial situation.  I am happy to report that our staff and students implemented the plans with precision and professionalism.


Also important to note is the cooperation with the Pampa Police Department.  Their quick response time and strategic maneuvers during the incident were impressive.  Through a collaborative that began in 2016, the Pampa ISD has worked alongside our local police, sheriff’s office, emergency personnel including the fire department and the EMS to develop preventive measures and contingency plans for almost any threat.   Having said that, we cannot and will never be able to predict everything and think about the unthinkable.  But, we can always be thinking about new and better ways to prevent tragedies.


Soon, we will be engaging in more targeted training of our staff and students on the CRASE system (Citizen Response to an Active Shooter Events). Additionally, we will be providing informational meetings for parents on each campus so that they may learn more about our procedures, experience some of the drills that their students experience, and to provide us with feedback, ideas, and suggestions on how to improve our safety and security measures. 


As I reflect on these events and circumstances, I am reminded of an old saying.  “It takes a village”   “It takes a village” is a proverb that you may have heard.  Its origins are debated by many scholars and its reference has been widely seen including from biblical verse to most recently being used as the title of some books.   The meaning of “it takes a village” however is consistent:  A child is a blessing on a community and the entire community will bless the child when they work together to develop, foster, encourage, support, and defend the child.  Our Pampa Community is a blessing to our children and our community blesses our children every day.  At the Pampa ISD, we welcome our community into our schools and invite your support and engagement as we endeavor to develop, teach, lead, direct, coach, serve, and protect the students in our classrooms.  If you would like to work with us on this, please call 806-669-4700.


~Tanya Larkin, Superintendent

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