BOLDplanning Customer Showcase: Williamson County Schools
Williamson County Schools (WCS) serves the educational needs of around 42,000 pre-K and K-12 students; the Franklin Special School District (FSSD) serves around 3,700 pre-k and K-8 students. Both are top-rated public school districts and continue to be leaders in the State of Tennessee in academic achievement according to the 2018 State Report Card. Together, WCS and FSSD employ around 8,800 people and comprise 56 public schools—ten high schools, 11 middle schools, 30 elementary schools, two K-8 schools, one intermediate school, and the Alternative Learning Center.
Aside from providing a quality education, WCS and FSSD (and their individual Departments of Safety and Security) are committed to ensuring the safety of students, employees, and visitors through all-important partnerships with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office and the Williamson County Emergency Management Agency, among others.
WCS & FSSD Recognize Need for Emergency Preparedness, Develop Emergency Operations Plans
Like other public school systems across the U.S., WCS and FSSD independently developed Emergency Operations Plans (EOPs) outlining how they would respond to emergency situations. Among those addressed on paper were fires, inclement weather, and worse, active shooter events. The only drawback was that the EOPs were school-specific, leaving them without a consolidated or district-wide plan that applied the same terminology, included the same action steps, and followed the same protocols.
Recognizing this could potentially prove problematic, WCS’s director of safety and security since 2013, Michael Fletcher, suggested merging WCS’s individual school plans, as well as those of FSSD, into an all-inclusive EOP for better emergency preparedness for Williamson County as a whole.
WCS & FSSD Discover BOLDplanning
It was through the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) that Fletcher and WCS were first introduced to BOLDplanning, and it didn’t take long for a solid working relationship to form.
“BOLDplanning dug in right away, listening to our complex emergency planning needs and providing expert guidance for making our district-wide EOP a reality,” said Fletcher.
“The company’s representatives demonstrated true professionalism every step of the way, showing our staff how to use the BOLDplanning platform, and helping us build our plan in a matter of months.”
While Fletcher admits consolidating all the school plans was an arduous process, he is quick to say that the end result was, and continues to be, “worth its weight in gold.” The district’s EOP is now consistent, and just as important, actionable. It is also fully compliant with the Incident Command System (ICS) and the National Incident Management System (NIMS), as well as in accordance with All-Hazards Emergency Operations Planning. As such, the EOP not only demonstrates the school systems’ desire to meet, but also exceeds all emergency planning requirements, and could also help the county to mitigate legal exposure in the wake of a critical event.
EOP Development Continues
Even though WCS and FSSD have experienced no high-level emergencies since partnering with BOLDplanning, the school districts continue to maintain and improve the EOP.
“Plan updating, which was especially challenging with our original paper-based plans and further complicated by administrative turnover, is now easy,” said Fletcher.
The process starts at the school level with principals, assistant principals, School Resource Officers (SROs), and others providing updates, and ends at the district level following review and implementation. Regularly scheduled audits of the EOP by BOLDplanning also help ensure plan accuracy.
Further, WCS and FSSD routinely conduct EOP drills and tabletop exercises as mandated by state law. Drills include, but are not limited to, fire, severe weather, tornadoes, and AED/medical emergency. Tabletop exercises, which typically involve only school administrators, most often take place over the summer months. Mini-tabletop exercises, which are scenario-based and require only a few minutes, are conducted several times each year.