Randy Councell offered a scenario pulled straight from real life.
Councell, the director of safety and security for the Cherry Creek School District, addressed a crowd of more than 100 security personnel who were gathered in the Smoky Hill High School lecture center on Aug. 8. Councell's audience comprised security professionals from across the district, professionals trained to keep students, teachers and staff at elementary, middle and high schools safe.
Councell gave the crowd a situation that seemed strange enough to be fiction: A community member dressed only in pajamas was spotted at a park adjoining a CCSD school, acting irrationally and threatening people.
Before the attendees broke off into groups to discuss the best way to deal with the situation, Councell encouraged to the group to explore multiple actions and spell out specific steps. Offer details, share insights and find the most effective way to keep the school community safe.
This was only one of multiple exercises that took place at the three-day security summit that ran at Smoky Hill before the formal launch of the 2018-19 school year. While the Cherry Creek School District has long worked to prepare every single security official for every kind of situation, this meeting represented a new step in the district's approach to safety.
Security teams from all levels and from all corners of the district gathered together as a single team. In lieu of a site-based, individualized approach to planning, this meeting encouraged a district-wide emphasis on sharing information and teaming up on strategy.
"Previously, the approach was building-based. Now, we're working to be more centralized district-wide. We're all doing the same thing together," Councell said. "We want to give every individual the tools they need to do their job properly."
The security training was one of several new measures implemented for the 2018-19 school year designed to ensure that schools are safe places where students are supported in their physical and mental health and social emotional needs. The district hired six new security coordinators for the new school year, or one to cover each feeder area.
In addition, a new buzzer system will go into place at all middle school entrances, and the district has also launched the Safe2Tell system as the go-to resource for reporting safety concerns.
The meeting of security professionals from across the district earlier this month gave everyone the chance to get on the same page and review important procedures tied to campus security.
"This is the next iteration of creating safe and welcoming learning environments," said CCSD Superintendent Dr. Scott Siegfried. "Safety and security cannot be site-based. We need a unified approach for all buildings in the district."
The introduction of six new security coordinators aligns with that goal, according to CCSD Chief of Staff Chris Smith. Specifically, the coordinators, who tout backgrounds that range from service in the National Guard to stints in the U.S. Marshall's office, will communicate and coordinate with safety teams at individual buildings to create a comprehensive, coordinated approach to safety.
"They're going to be an integral part of our school safety teams, working on promoting equity, building relationships and establishing specific procedures for different scenarios," Smith said. "Together, we're working to partner the social and emotional aspects of safety with the physical aspects."
Having a chance to communicate with security personnel will make that mission more approachable for Kevin Childs, one of the new coordinators. Along with his team, Childs took part in the discussions, scenarios and other activities during three-day summit at Smoky Hill.
"This is one of the most important pieces of our job, making sure that we're all on the same page," Childs said. "I'm coming to this position after serving as a security lead at a middle school. Now I can help security supervisors be more effective. Working together, we can all get things done the right way."