BP approves training program
The Bethel Park School Board at its Oct. 22 meeting approved the implementation of the ALICE Training Program, which advocates a proactive approach for safety in an active shooter situation.
The national program is designed to give school district staff and students the skills and knowledge of their options should the unthinkable event of a shooter in the school become a reality.
School district police Officer Jim Modrak and police department school resource Officer Scott Zinsmeister, both of whom have completed the ALICE training and are certified trainers, explained how the training works.
In the majority of recent school shootings the casualties have occurred in the first five minutes and the shooter has usually killed himself before the police have arrived on the scene, Modrak said.
ALICE gives staff and students the training to escape and fight back in those crucial minutes before help can arrive.
The components of the program can be used not only in schools but also offices or any public place where an active shooter situation can occur, Modrak said
The acronym ALICE, he explained, stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate.
Of those items “evacuation is the first choice,” said Modrak.
The current protocol in most schools is Lockdown, where the students and staff lock the doors, hide and wait for police, but this has proved ineffective and basically gives shooters an easy target.
“We have to adapt to what is going on,” he said.
With ALICE, staff and students are taught to “get out, hide out and take out,” said Zinsmeister. “This is about survivability and acting individually.”
Alert and Inform stand for getting the word out that there is a situation in the building using all technology available. And Counter means interrupting the mindset of the shooter to take away his accuracy.
Modrak used the example of the Sandy Hook Elementary School students who, when the gunman’s weapon jammed, took the opportunity to escape to a neighboring home.
District officials plan to impliment the training program districtwide, teaching students with curriculum appropriate for the different age levels. The schools will also hold drills much like fire drills.
Superintendent Nancy Rose said the district would like to have more of its staff members certified and will apply for a Federal Safe School grant to cover the costs.
The cost for Modrak and Zinsmeister to attend the certification class was $350 each. Modrak’s training was paid for by the district and Zinsmeister’s was funded by the municipal police department.
In other news, contract negotiations between the school district and the teachers’ union have reached a point where district officials feel positive about scheduling a meeting to ratify a new contract. Board President Donna Cook announced that one has been tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 28 at the administration building at 301 Church Road.
“A big collective sigh of relief is being heard in the community,” said Dr. Tim Campbell, a member of the board.
Board members said that both sides had to compromise, but it looks as though the three-year long contract dispute is finally coming to an end.
“(The terms) are acceptable to everybody,” said board member Jim Means. “And we will be able to maintain the financial viability of our programs.”
Earlier this month, the district and the Bethel Park Federation of Teachers both accepted the fact-finding report from the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board. The report contains recommendations on items such as salaries and benefits as well as the length and number of workdays. They will become the base for a contract that runs June 30, 2010, through June 30, 2016. The prior agreement expired on June 30, 2010, with the district and teachers in continuous talks since April 2010.