District 181 Viewpoint: Supporting our students
In the wake of recent national and local events, we at Brainerd Public Schools have been taking a look at how we support students' mental health and physical safety. I want to share what I learned about what we currently do districtwide to ensure the well-being and safety of our students and what we are planning for the future.
To nurture and support the mental health of our students, we currently have the following resources available across the district:
• 26 mental health workers are contracted through Northern Pines to work throughout the district offering a full array of services. In the event of a crisis, there is immediate access to a mental health professional for services such as mental health screenings and Mobile Crisis Unit access.
• At the early childhood through middle level sites, 10 Family Service Collaborative workers serve as liaisons between the district and all county resources.
• Licensed School Counselors are available at Brainerd High School, Forestview Middle School and Brainerd Learning Center.
• Each school has a licensed school psychologist assigned to them through the Paul Bunyan Education Cooperative.
• Teachers are required by the state to complete training to identify the early-onset of student mental health issues, including suicide prevention.
• Members of the clergy have been available as needed to provide additional support in times of need.
In addition to these district supports, our student also have access to community supports like the 24 hour a day/7 days a week crisis line and referral services (218-828-HELP (4357) or 800-462-5525).
To ensure the highest level of physical safety and security for all students, staff and visitors to our school buildings, we currently have the following resources:
• Active staff presence including school resource officers and three full-time security officers at BHS and South Campus.
• Emergency radios in every building with immediate access to local, county and state emergency services.
• Cameras installed in buildings and on school buses.
• Regularly updated Emergency Management Handbook and Crisis Manual.
• Safety and crisis teams that meet regularly in each building.
• Alert Lockdown Inform Counter and Evacuate (ALICE) Training for staff including safety and security drills for each building.
To continue moving the district forward, we are:
• Completing a safety and security audit with building principals to review current safety and security measures as well as future needs.
• Exploring the possibility of an additional school resource officer.
• Reviewing the building security guard protocols at Brainerd High School and Forestview Middle School.
• Beginning a community conversation and plan development around suicide prevention at Brainerd High School.
• Presenting a report on mental health supports and safety and security at Forestview Middle School and Brainerd High School to the board of education at its March 19 meeting.
• The district's comprehensive long-range facility plan prioritizes safety and security updates as our first objective, including standardized controlled entrances, buildings locked throughout the school day, cameras in the buildings, playgrounds, and parking lots, and safe and secure areas in the buildings.
As a school district, we continually look for innovative strategies for getting students connected and engaged in our schools. If you have additional recommendations for mental health and/or safety and security needs, please feel free to contact me email@example.com or 218-454-6900.