Belpre school board discusses emergency plans

BELPRE – As the Belpre City Schools District looks to design a new emergency plan for the facilities, a former Washington County sheriff’s deputy and Belpre police officer spoke to the board of education Monday.

“The recent tragedies in Connecticut and California are on all our minds and A.L.I.C.E. will help us with that,” said Superintendent Tony Dunn.

Retired deputy Bill Wilson and Mike Stump with the Belpre Police Department discussed the A.L.I.C.E. program, which stands for Alert Lockdown Inform Counter Evaluate response options, and teaches people how to react and fight back if someone comes to their facility with a gun.

“The A.L.I.C.E. program started in 1999 as a response of what to do in the instance of an armed intruder comes to schools after Columbine,” Wilson said.

“With the situations going on now, the Belpre Police Department has gone through the elementary and high schools to learn the buildings to better be prepared for an emergency,” Stump said. “We are actively seeking training and are in the process of working with the state to get more training.”

Wilson said the danger of something happening is real and people need to be prepared because no one knows what will happen each day.

The program’s primary focus is survival of those who find themselves under attack and it teaches people to fight back rather than sit in a room and wait.

“Lockdown is a great idea, but we need to teach our kids to not just be a victim,” Wilson said. “You train for fires with fire drills and it is very rare for someone to die in a school fire, but have lost 323 people in the last 10 years to shootings.”

Humans have three natural responses to danger: fight, flight and freeze and this program teaches people to fight, he said.

“We have to be proactive and do something,” Wilson added.

Stump called A.L.I.C.E. a foundational program that gives school faculty and administration a place to start developing their own program.

Working with the schools, Wilson and Stump said only teachers and staff will be trained at the elementary school while the older students at the high school and middle school campus will also be trained with their teachers. This means they will be shown how to use anything at their disposal tables, books, chairs and more to fight.

“This program provides options and gets us out of the mindset of just sitting there,” Stump said. “For the Belpre Police Department, we believe this is the best starting point for the schools because as much as we want to be, we can’t always get to where we are needed in time.”

Dunn said he looks forward to working with the Belpre Police Department and Wilson as he and other administrators revise the district’s emergency plan during the next month.

In other business:

The Belpre City Schools Board of Education held its annual organizational meeting prior to the regular meeting where officers and committee members were approved.

Leonard Wiggins was voted president of the board while Pat Taylor was chosen as vice president.

The monthly board meetings will remain at 7 p.m. on the third Monday of each month in the gymnasium of the administration building.