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The Lake News Online
  • Osage officials defend security measures

  • School of the Osage officials believe they have come a long way toward improving school security over the last three years.
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    School of the Osage officials believe they have come a long way toward improving school security over the last three years.
    “Keeping our students, faculty and staff safe is a priority for School of the Osage,” Superintendent Brent Depeé said.
    He offered several measures that he says are “proactive” in improving the district’s safety and security.
    These include:
    •Edu-Safe, a company based out of Springfield and an industry leader in school safety, conducted an extensive safety audit of the district’s Lake Ozark facilities and procedures. The company made several priority recommendations to the external structure/campus, and school officials say all of those except traffic flow have been implemented.
    •The traffic flow concern will be addressed with the completion of the Heritage Building. The flow of bus traffic will go behind the school and include a secure parent drop off in front.
    •In addition to the safety audit, Edu-Safe trained district administrators in the rewriting the district and building crisis response plans.
    •Administrators developed, implemented and verified staff training on the newly rewritten crisis plan. The district recently began discussions with outside agencies regarding additional drills and training for staff.
    •In cooperation with outside agencies in both Lake Ozark and Osage Beach, the district conduct drills on a regular basis. Both fire departments are heavily involved with fire/evacuation drills, and the police departments have been invited to assist with intruder/lockdown drills. When the district receives feedback from outside agencies, district personnel make improvements as directed.
    •The district has increased its meetings with local emergency responders in Camden and Miller counties by holding biannual meetings with these agencies. They provide feedback regarding district plans and keep the district informed regarding pertinent safety issues.
     
    Security upgrades
    “The district certainly appreciates its patrons passing the bond issue so that we could make security upgrades in our buildings,” Depeé said. “This summer, we will be making over $500,000 in safety upgrades to school entrances at the high school, Upper Elementary and Heritage Building. These redesigns will control access to ensure that students, school district personnel, and others who have authorized access are in our school buildings during the school day.”
    Depeé said Edu-Safe has been contacted to return this summer to assist in developing the safety procedures for the renovated Heritage Building.
    “We recently installed a camera to monitor the entry to our gym during pick up time after school at Mills,” Depeé said. “In addition to the already established pick up procedure, which ensures that all children are only released to those authorized to pick them up, additional staff supervision of visitors to the property in the afternoons during pick up time has been put in place.”
    Page 2 of 2 - In February of 2013, a procedure was put in place in collaboration with Lake Ozark Police that provides for direct contact with them in the event of an emergency, the superintendent explained.
    “We find that Lake Ozark Police Department is quick to respond if there is a time that we are in need,” Depeé said. “In recent years, we have had no reportable incidents in our Lake Ozark buildings, other than misdialed 911 calls. We also appreciate their presence in our safety zone before and after the school day.”
    Depeé said Mills Elementary is unique in its close proximity to Lake Ozark Fire Department, which is also quick to respond to the school in times of need.
    Depeé said that in addition to the support that the district receives in Lake Ozark, it has “outstanding” partnerships with the Osage Beach Police Department, Osage Beach Police Department, the Miller County Sheriff’s Department, the Camden County Sheriff’s Department, the Miller County Ambulance District, the Missouri Highway Patrol, and the Miller County Office of Emergency Management.
    “These agencies have all been supportive and responsive to our district,” he added.
     
    LOPD
    Depeé complimented the partnership with and support from the Lake Ozark Police Department.
    “They have a great presence on our Lake Ozark campus and their partnership is appreciated,” he said. “They are currently in our school zone before and after school each day. We estimate that their cars pass by Mills Elementary at least 30 times per day as they are on patrol.”
    Depeé said LOPD officers patrol Lake Ozark campus buildings and eat lunch in the cafeteria on a regular basis. They also have presence at special events during the day and in the evening.
    During Monday’s board of education meeting, Chief Mark Maples recommended that the district consider an SRO for the Lake Ozark campus.
    “I understand his recommendation as a law enforcement officer. If I were in his shoes, I would do the same,” Depeé said. “However, we believe their current presence is a deterrent to potential safety issues. Their close proximity and their partnership in providing us a way to be in direct contact with them are both reassuring to us. We appreciate Lake Ozark Police department and look forward to this continued partnership.”
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
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