U-46 officials discuss school safety efforts
Elgin schools officials say they are working on reducing incidences of students disrespecting teachers and disorder in the hallways -- among the concerns identified in the district's annual school safety and security report.
One strategy is targeting more resources to empower employees helping them cope with such situations, said John Heiderscheidt, Elgin Area School District U-46 director of school safety and culture.
Heiderscheidt told the school board Monday night how security systems have been improved providing local police departments 24/7 access to school buildings through key fobs. School employees also have been provided key fobs with personalized access.
A network of more than 600 cameras monitoring the interior and exterior of buildings, more than 100 panic buttons and about 2,000 handheld radios are protecting district schools, he added.
The district's visitor management system has logged more than 188,000 visitors at the schools over two years. That includes 34 registered sex offenders, nearly all parents with children at district schools, who were flagged upon entry. School resource officers are in place at all district middle and high schools, per the report.
Alignment Collaborative for Education, with help from the Illinois Education Association, has put in place trauma-informed care systems at select schools training 26 resiliency teams in two years, Heiderscheidt said.
"Our resiliency teams are there to help staff understand three objectives. ... We are asking them to focus on raising the awareness of adverse childhood experiences, grow the expertise in trauma-informed care and develop a plan to address caregiver compassion fatigue," Heiderscheidt said. "It's a paradigm shift of our thinking. It is helping us hold people more accountable for their actions."
U-46 now is part of a new regional partnership -- the Northern Illinois School Safety Administrators Association, formed in December. It's a collaborative among local school districts, the DuPage County Regional Office of Education and the College of DuPage Homeland Security Training Institute. Its goals are creating a common language in safety immediate response terms and procedures, common emergency operation plans, school safety training programs, and developing methods to provide mutual aid and cooperative peer evaluation.
Heiderscheidt was tapped to serve as inaugural president of the association.