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Progress
The following progress report was given at a Board Committee of the Whole meeting on June 21, 2006. Emergency Response and Crisis Management

Emergency Response and Crisis Management Grants

Cincinnati Public Schools is the recipient of two federal grants that are allowing the district to test and improve its Emergency Management Plan, which is designed to protect schoolchildren and staff in threatening situations.

CPS received $497,000 in 2005 and a follow-up grant in 2007 of $485,256 from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools. The grants link CPS in partnership with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Hamilton County Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the American Red Cross, City of Cincinnati, Cincinnati's police and fire departments, SORTA (Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority), the Cincinnati Health Department, Cincinnati/Hamilton County Mental Health Board, and Cincinnati Parents for Public Schools.

CPS and archdiocesan officials will use the grants to put into practice an Emergency Management Plan that is coordinated with the partner agencies and adapted to individual schools.

"Protecting the safety of our students and staff is a critical priority at Cincinnati Public Schools. Emergency planning and response training helps us do that better."

Mary Ronan, Superintendent

“These grants help us meet one of CPS’ highest priorities — to ensure the safety of students and staff in Cincinnati’s schools,” said Bill Moehring, CPS’ director of school services. “While there are many challenges to making sure this is the reality, CPS is committed to developing a comprehensive strategy for emergency response and crisis management.”

The grants provide training of staff at schools and CPS' Central Office; help strengthen CPS' coordination with police and fire departments, medical personnel, and other agencies; and set in place procedures to ensure effective communication with parents and the community during an emergency.

The grants are especially timely, Moehring said, because they provide financial support during CPS' districtwide building plan and as district officials are reducing staff and spending. CPS is building dozens of new school buildings and fully renovating many others, and the lessons learned in developing the Emergency Management Plan will be put into use in the design of these facilities. With less personnel and funding available, the grants help provide better planning and coordination to prevent and prepare for crises.

CPS formed an Incident Management Team early in 2005, with representatives of Cincinnati's police and fire departments, and other local government and social-service agencies. The Emergency Management Plan developed by this team uses best practices from around the country and adopts the policies of the National Incident Management System (NIMS), designed to help coordinate and streamline emergency response to threatening incidents.

The team is conducting planning and training sessions at CPS and the archdiocesan schools in the Cincinnati area to prepare staff for a multitude of hazards, including severe weather, chemical leaks, hostage situations and acts of terrorism. Five team members attended a training course conducted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Center for Domestic Preparedness, which familiarized participants with weapons of mass destruction.

Prior to receiving the first grant, CPS received certification by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to teach Multi-Hazard Emergency Planning for Schools. This certification was achieved after attending a weeklong specialized training at the Emergency Management Institute in Maryland. Since receiving certification, CPS' team has conducted training for the district's and the archdiocese's key staff members in emergency management fundamentals, which include the four phases of emergency management planning: mitigation and prevention; preparedness; response; and recovery.

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