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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, August 6, 2009

Guilderland School district gets $100K for safety

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — The third time was a charm for the Guilderland School District, which has received a $101,410 grant to improve its readiness for emergencies.

Robert Collins, the district’s Health and Safety officer, had applied to the United States Department of Education for the grant twice before.

“This was our third application,” said Neil Sanders, the district’s assistant superintendent for business. “We were rejected twice….We’re very pleased to be one of seven schools in New York State to receive this and one of 108 in the United States.”

Altogether, over $26 million was awarded as part of the Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools program.

Sanders said that the grant money will be used for four different aspects of improving emergency response:

— Prevention and mitigation, or limiting exposure to risk;

— Preparedness;

— Response; and

— Recovery, or, said Sanders, “what you do after.”

The school district will coordinate with outside agencies, he said, including law enforcement, public safety, public health, mental health, and local government agencies.

“A lot will involve training,” he said. “We’ll work with outside agencies to identify hazards and risks.” Then, the district will develop “up-to-date” plans, coordinating with the outside agencies.

The school district, he noted, is spread out, including seven different school buildings and students with disabilities.

“We’ll take a hard look at what we have in place,” said Sanders, “and bring in pieces we are lacking….We’ll pull ourselves together to make sure we’re adequately prepared.”

Once the plans are in place, the district will run drills and exercises to deal with disasters.

The disasters, he said, could be natural, such as flooding or high winds, or could be, for example, from a chemical spill at the Northeastern Industrial Park that neighbors the high school. The emergency could also be medical, such as the outbreak of influenza.

“It’s better to be prepared than not,” concluded Sanders.

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