North Sanpete School District planning mock active shooter exercise
By Daniela Vazquez
MT. PLEASANT—The North Sanpete School Board meeting held on Dec. 13 touched on various topics that will influence how students prepare for possible future catastrophes, as well as the future of district energy plans.
Come spring, high school students might participate in a community mock casualty exercise, an addition to an exercise first launched on campus by local officers on Dec. 10.
Nan Ault, North Sanpete High School Principal, said a local physician at Sanpete Valley Hospital had told her he was on the path to find a mock mass casualty crisis the community could participate in so everyone would know how to respond to a crisis, most likely an active “shooter situation.”
“If we do this, we need to have the hospital coordinate with our first responders, our officers, to make sure the event is well planned and something everyone benefits from,” she said.
District Superintendent Dr. Sam Ray says if they move forward with the plan, he and the board will need assurance that district administrators are comfortable with the exercise before allowing students to participate.
School Board President Rich Brotherson and North Sanpete High Principal Nan Ault both made approving statements, agreeing the experience would be beneficial for youth.
“The more the student’s practice, the better they will be able to respond in real-life situations without adults standing right by their sides,” Ault said.
Thus far, the hospital, local officers and the district are in preliminary discussion about the mock casualty exercise.
But in a less ominous discussion, and after several months of negotiating with the Mt. Pleasant Recreation Department, the board has agreed to allow the Mt. Pleasant Volleyball League the use of the old Mt. Pleasant Elementary gym for their games.
In October, Stephanie Blaine, Mt. Pleasant recreation manager, had asked high school administration to allow city volleyball players the use of the high school gym during the winter.
Ault raised concerns saying it could create various issues, such as wear and tear on schools floors, the requirement for extra or overtime janitorial staff to clean-up after the weekly events and, ultimately, it would require an administrator to be present during the games.
Ray said he had recently been in contact with Mayor David H. Blackham on the matter. Blackham supported the use of the Pleasant Creek gym for volleyball since it is closer to the armory, it can be used multiple nights of the week and the cost to the city for custodial is much less than custodial and admin supervision required at the high school.
The board has reached out to Blain on approval for the use of the gym and is currently awaiting her response.
In other news, Eric Thatcher, senior sales executive at Siemens Energy, stood before the board with an update on the district’s energy conservation plan and new equipment for schools.
The district has contracted with a third-party engineer, Jones and DeMille, to double check all of the Siemens engineering calculations and to represent the district in the negotiation process.
Thatcher advised the board that they will need to include a bond resolution as part of the application for the qualified energy conservation bond they are seeking and that the best approach will be to use the county as the conduit for such a bond. He says that any conduit used will want the district to have bond counsel while as they navigate through the bonding process.
“We’re working with the state to clarify [the necessity for bond council],” Thatcher told the board. “For your situation, you just find out whether the appropriation is something you can or can’t do. You just need to know if they can approve it, and they just might need the terms for that.”
Thatcher also said Siemens is currently working out those terms to get the “thumbs-up” before the district invests any money into crafting the bond, although it could be a few weeks before the process is complete.
Another consideration, Thatcher says, is the Blue Sky program, a renewable energy program launched by Rocky Mountain Power. He claims his team has made a “bold” decision in asking Blue Sky to fund 75 percent of the solar upgrades, which will account for over $1 million in overall funding.
He says the district meets most of the criteria Blue Sky requires, largely by the rural economic disadvantage of the area and because of the plan to implement solar and solar energy storage units in schools.
If Mt. Pleasant City Power Company ever decides to sell to Rocky Mountain Power, Thatcher says “there is future potential” that the high school will become eligible for a separate, and possibly more substantial, funding for Blue Sky.
With the bonding in motion and the proposal for Jones and Demille to act as the third-party reviewer, the board is well on their way to reaching their energy conservation goal while updating the aging infrastructure and providing 21st Century STEM training for students at the same time.