Brookfield Police Chief Tom Schoenfeld recalls a time when people didn’t have to worry about school safety.
“Ten years ago, I don’t think people thought about having a comprehensive safety plan for their schools,” said Schoenfeld, who has been with the department since 1975. “But after the incidents at Columbine High School and other places, people now realize things can really happen anywhere.”
Last Thursday, Brookfield-Lyons Elementary School District 103 took its first steps toward putting together a complete disaster plan by holding its first Public Safety Forum at the district office in Lyons.
“One unique thing about our district is that we have a lot of communities involved,” District 103 Superintendent Dr. Raymond Lauk said.
The district serves children from Brookfield, Forest View, Lyons, McCook and Stickney and they feed into the six schools. Brookfield students attend Lincoln Elementary, which is located in the village, and George Washington Middle School in Lyons.
“I attended the Chief Executive Officer Seminar School Safety Forum in Washington, and that’s when we started to think that we needed something for our district,” Lauk said. “We need to open the lines of communication with all the fire and police departments to make sure everyone is on the same page.”
Fire and police department representatives from each of the five communities were attendance to share their thoughts on what is expected to be a lengthy process.
“People have to remember that this plan isn’t going to be put together overnight,” Schoenfeld said. “It’s going to be slow and take a lot of work by a lot of different people.”
The district is hoping that in the coming months it will have a plan that not only deals with preventing, but also the proper responding steps to crisis situations.
“We’re always concerned with school safety throughout the district,” said Lauk, who is in his second year as superintendent. “Most schools don’t have a plan that is practiced all the time.
We’re always worried about fires and tornados, but I think everyone realizes that there are other things we need to worry about, too.”
Lauk stressed that the biggest part of this plan will be communication.
“There has been turnover in the school district and at the police departments in recent years,” Lauk said. “There are some police officers that might not know how to get around some of our buildings.
“In order to provide safety for all of our students, it’s up to us to work together with the fire and police departments to make sure everyone is on the same page. We also need to train our students on what they need to do so they can help us during a crisis situation.”
While the general public wasn’t a part of Thursday’s meeting, there is a chance residents may be added in the coming weeks.