Commonwealth Journal

Local News

May 21, 2013

Local schools prepared for the worst when storms strike

Somerset —

News like that out of Oklahoma this week has a way of striking a nerve with the rest of the nation. Particularly, those charged with the care of children — many of which were victims in the Midwestern tornadoes — find themselves paying close attention.
Steve Butcher, superintendent of Pulaski County Schools, said on Tuesday that there was a meeting of his district’s principals that very day — only one day after the storms in Moore, Okla., that killed over 90 people — to address such matters.
“We discussed our heartfelt feelings for those students and teachers,” said Butcher, referencing the damage done to schools in that area like Plaza Towers and Briarwood Elementary Schools.
“I told our principals that it’s only about 13 hours from here to Moore, Okla.,” he continued. “The same thing that happened there could certainly happen here.”
It so happens that the school district’s emergency management meeting, an annual function, will be held today at the Hal Rogers Fire Training Facility at 1 p.m., to discuss emergency management planning; a similar meeting will be held next week, said Butcher.
“Each school has a team that has individual assignments for what they’re supposed to do in case this happens or that happens,” said Butcher. “It’s important for us to come together as a district yearly to talk about our emergency management plan. This is very timely from our standpoint.
“All kinds of emergencies can take place,” he added. “It’s not just shootings. Tornadoes can be just as devastating to a school.”
For all intents and purposes, the school system is about as well-prepared as one can be for a tornadic occurrence. 
“We think our plan is state-of-the-art,” said Butcher. “(It is) a model used across the state; we’ve had it in place for a while. Sometimes when schools don’t have good emergency plans, they refer those districts to us.”

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