Staff Safety Training Helps Reduce Staff Accidents and Associated Costs- Pleasant Ridge Unified School District (CA)
Many large districts keep a lawyer on a retainer to train staff on mandated training topics such as sexual harassment and to handle any litigation that arises. For Pleasant Ridge Unified School District (USD), a small district in California, having a lawyer on retainer wasn’t an option.
“For a large district, hiring a lawyer to train administrators once on sexual harassment would cost $1,500 to $2,000,” said Rusty Clark, Superintendent of Pleasant Ridge USD. “However, we needed much more training than sexual harassment prevention because that’s not the only risk we face. We needed a cost-effective resource to address all of our training.”
“I learned about PublicSchoolWORKS through a colleague whose district was using the EmployeeSafe Suite,” said Clark. “Once I learned about what it could do, I knew we needed to have it for all of our schools.”
Luckily, Pleasant Ridge USD is a member of Schools Insurance Group (SIG), a Joint Powers Authority formed for the purpose of maximizing insurance dollars for its 36 member school districts. Clark spoke with the SIG Executive Director Bev Wilkinson about EmployeeSafe and how it could help improve safety and reduce insurance costs for member districts. SIG now offers its member districts access to EmployeeSafe through a joint purchasing initiative.
The online format and automation features of EmployeeSafe have helped the district get ahead of school safety concerns.
All employees are required to complete courses such as bloodborne pathogens and slips, trips, and falls, as well as additional courses based on their job role. For example, coaches are required to take concussion training courses and educators in the science department are required to take courses on chemical safety. Required online courses are assigned to each employee in the EmployeeSafe Staff Training System.
Once courses are assigned, employees are annually auto-emailed a link to their assigned courses, which they can complete when and where they choose. The system then periodically reminds employees to complete their training by the deadline, and when that deadline passes, the system automatically sends training non-compliance reports to administration, making it easy to follow-up with employees to ensure completion.
Per PublicSchoolWORKS’ suggestion, the district strategically schedules slips, trips, and falls training in November. This helps reinforce safety best practices – including how to properly walk on slick surfaces, the best shoes to wear to avoid injury, how to treat slick surfaces, and how to conduct facility checks to ensure there is proper drainage – before inclement weather hits.
Deploying training is just as convenient for new hire onboarding. Instead of finding a way to provide onsite training to the new employee as soon as possible, the EmployeeSafe Suite staff training system immediately emails a link to each new hires’ online training courses for the employee to complete based on their job role.
Pleasant Ridge USD is also committed to ensuring 100 percent of employees are first aid-trained. To make this more efficient, the district uploaded all of their first aid videos to the Staff Training System. Employees are notified to watch the videos and take a quick assessment in the online system in order to prepare for their first aid practicum conducted by one of the district’s nurses.
In addition to the online training, Pleasant Ridge is taking advantage of the EmployeeSafe EZmaint Requests & Work Orders system.
“Before Thanksgiving, a volunteer on campus tripped on a crack in the sidewalk,” said Clark. “This was something our maintenance team had scheduled to complete over winter break, but once the incident was reported, we entered a work order to repair the crack and the team went out and mitigated the risk immediately.”
The district has also implemented the EmployeeSafe SDS Now! System to provide 24/7 online access to safety data sheets (SDS), as well as telephone access to chemical safety specialists and hotlines in the event of a chemical-related emergency. Administration no longer has to keep up with SDS binders. If someone asks for an SDS for a chemical, they can easily call the chemical safety agent to have one emailed to them or they can go online to source or print the SDS.
Pleasant Ridge USD has seen a significant decrease in the number of slips, trips, and falls, as well as other work-related injuries because the online training courses have created a greater sense of safety awareness. If an employee hurts their back improperly carrying a ladder, Clark assigns the safety training course related to the injury type to that employee once they are fully healed and cleared to return to work. If an educator is seen improperly storing chemicals, they are assigned a relevant course to remind them how to do it properly. This diligence has led to a tremendous reduction in the district’s workers’ comp costs.
“As a small district, workers’ comp claims can have a big impact,” said Clark. “During my first year as superintendent, we had more than $100,000 in workers’ comp claims and now, six years later, we’re under $5,000. EmployeeSafe has helped us mitigate these costs because we’re being proactive, not reactive.”
Moving from Staff Training to a Culture of Safety- School District of Nekoosa (WI)
Providing staff with the training needed to remain safe and be in compliance with state and federal requirements is tedious. It requires the district to provide training that supports employees’ different job roles and maintain accurate records of who completed which trainings. The School District of Nekoosa in Nekoosa, Wisconsin was struggling with how to keep its required training documentation in order.
“We tried to keep track of training with a binder of transcripts at each school,” said Diana Martinson, administrative assistant at the School District of Nekoosa. “This wasn’t the most effective method and it was hard to assign new hires the training they needed.”
Lynn Knight, business manager at the School District of Nekoosa, was at a Wisconsin Association of School Business Officials conference when a colleague mentioned the PublicSchoolWORKS EmployeSafe Suite.
“He told me, ‘You have got to get on this system,’” said Knight. “I reached out to PublicSchoolWORKS and they walked me through the system. That’s when I realized the program did more than online training. It’s so robust.”
After the initial set up, the EmployeeSafe Staff Training System automatically deploys training to employees, who are emailed a link to their assigned online courses. Each course has a set training deadline and employees can complete courses when and where they choose. The system periodically reminds employees to complete training before the deadline, and when a deadline passes, the system automatically sends training non-compliance reports to administration.
This helped solve the district’s issue around managing new hire and substitute training. When a new employee or substitute comes to the district, they are added to the PublicSchoolWORKS system and automatically receive the required training based on their job role.
The system also gave the district more leeway on when it deploys training to employees. When Knight and Martinson asked for staff feedback, staff preferred to receive all assigned courses at once instead of on a quarterly basis. The district worked with their Project Management Coordinator to adjust the training calendar and employees now receive one email at the beginning of the year with required training links and deadlines.
While simplifying the staff training process was the main reason the district implemented EmployeeSafe, it found the other aspects of the program to be very effective.
The EmployeeSafe Staff Accident Mangement System has changed the way the district manages staff injuries. Previously, when a staff member was injured, he or she reported it to the secretary, who filled out a paper accident report. The injured employee then met with the district’s payroll and benefits coordinator who documented everything on paper and completed paperwork for the insurance company. The only people who knew about the incident were the injured employee, the secretary, and the payroll and benefits coordinator.
Now, injured employees fill out an online accident report in the EmployeeSafe Accident Management System. Once the report is submitted, a number of key contacts are immediately notified via email.
“I now find out if an employee is injured as soon as they submit their accident report and I get the follow-up process started immediately,” said Knight. “We also set it up so that our insurance company is immediately notified of the report, regardless of whether it results in a workers’ comp claim. They love it because they are kept in the loop from day one.”
Prior to using EmployeeSafe, properly labeling and handling chemicals was difficult and they relied heavily on a cumbersome paper process. Now the ditrict uses the EmployeeSafe SDS Now! System to provide 24/7 online access to safety data sheets (SDS) in a virtual binder. The system also provides the district with telephone access to chemical safety specialists and hotlines in the event of a chemical-related emergency. The district spreads awareness of these resources by hanging posters provided by PublicSchoolWORKS that feature the hotline information.
The district is also encouraging employees to report maintenance issues via the EmployeeSafe EZ Maintenance system.
“In the past, we would only hear about issues when the board hosted listening sessions and issues would come out of the woodwork,” said Knight. “Now using EmployeeSafe, employees can report requests and our maintenance or IT departments see them immediately. It has accountability. We love it.”
Implementing EmployeeSafe has impacted the way the district manages its staff training, accident reporting, chemical safety, and work order protocols, but most importantly, it is helping the district save money.
“Our Experience Modification Rate used to be a very high 1.4,” said Knight. “That meant that because of our workers’ compensation claims history, our district was paying 40 percent more than the state average in insurance premiums. Since partnering with PublicSchoolWORKS and taking a preventative approach to safety, our rate has dramatically decreased to 1.16 so our costs in insurance premiums have decreased, too.”
Being Proactive Instead of Reactive – Strongsville City Schools (OH)
Strongsville City Schools in Strongsville, OH had a process for reporting student behavior reports electronically in place, but Andy Trujillo, the director of student services at Strongsville City Schools and a former elementary school principal for the district, said the process was clunky and they were looking for a better user experience.
“Our district wanted a central data collection point for student behavior, but not just a warehouse of negative student behavior reports,” said Trujillo. “We wanted the means to report positive behavior to support our Positive Behavior and Intervention Supports, and we needed a way to sort and analyze student behavior for trends.”
Strongsville City Schools was already using the PublicSchoolWORKS EmployeeSafe Suite, and, after hearing how the Student Behavior Management System could make the process of reporting and tracking all student behavior more efficient, the district chose to implement the award-winning StudentWatch Suite.
“With the Student Behavior Management System, I can look at student behavior from the building perspective to look for trends,” said Trujillo. “Even our superintendent can go in the system to see what’s going on without having to call a building or have reports faxed over.”
With StudentWatch, comes access to PublicSchoolWORKS award-winning student safety reporting system. The Stay Safe. Speak Up! Student Safety Reporting System gives students, staff, and families multiple ways to anonymously report safety concerns 24/7 via phone, a live attendant or an online form. The system is used to report bullying, discrimination, thoughts of suicide, dangerous or suspicious behavior, and more. Once a report is submitted, the system immediately emails the building principal and district administrators, including Trujillo, so they can take action. An included safety reporting toolkit provides schools with posters, stickers, and other resources to help promote this valuable resource.
“It’s instantaneous,” said Trujillo. “It ensures immediate action. When reports come through, we immediately contact each other to confirm that the investigation has begun.”
When an administrator takes action, including assigning a negative consequence for student behavior or resolving a bullying incident, it is recorded in the system so all parties remain updated on the status. All reports are stored in one centralized system so districts can easily access records, monitor safety trends, and use data to make decisions to improve safety.
Strongsville City Schools continuously uses the trends identified in the Student Behavior Management System to find ways the district can improve. Questions they have asked themselves include: How can we decrease negative consequences? Why does one elementary school have disproportionally more incidents than other elementary schools? Is there a disparity or inequity in how consequences are viewed? The district has been able to identify
trends in victims involved, educators or administrators involved, and more.
With the Stay Safe. Speak Up! Student Safety Reporting System, students now have a safe way to anonymously alert administrators of potential harm and threats to student safety. Trujillo also credits the ability to search reports by victim as a useful tool for detecting potential patterns.
From a district perspective, StudentWatch has helped central office administration monitor building-level administrators’ investigation and documentation quality. Lastly, it gives central office administration insight into the daily happenings of their students and staff across the district so they can intervene, if necessary.
“StudentWatch is a tool you can’t go without,” said Trujillo. “If you want to be transparent and ensure safety of everyone, you want to make sure you have the knowledge and a pulse on what’s happening at the school and district levels. StudentWatch has done that for us.”
Automating Safety Programs Makes Time for Focusing on Effective Teaching Practices – Yorktown Independent School District (TX)
In addition to providing students with a robust education, Yorktown Independent School District (ISD) in Yorktown, TX must train all district employees on specific safety practices such as bloodborne pathogens. This is a task each public school district is required by law to complete, regardless of its size, budget, or available resources.
“We spent so much of our in-service days on compliance training that we felt like it was taking away our staff’s opportunity for other professional development,” said Chad Gee, superintendent of Yorktown ISD. “While safety training is very important, our staff needed time to hone their teaching skills.”
And, deploying staff safety training was not the only safety task the district had to tackle. Yorktown ISD needed to get a handle on its chemical supplies, including safely disposing of expired chemicals and properly storing chemicals.
While these two tasks are very different, both can be streamlined using the PublicSchoolWORKS EmployeeSafe Suite, particularly the Staff Training System and the SDS Now! modules. Yorktown ISD began using EmployeeSafe at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year.
Every Yorktown ISD employee, regardless of their job description, now completes their safety training in the EmployeeSafe Staff Training System. The online system automatically deploys online training courses on safety topics such as bloodborne pathogens, chemical and laboratory safety, child abuse identification and prevention, bullying and suicide prevention, personal and professional social media use, and more. Once courses are assigned, staff can complete them when and where they choose. The system even periodically emails employees to complete the course before the deadline. When the training deadline passes, the system automatically sends training completion reports to administration, making follow-up much more structured.
For improved chemical safety, Yorktown ISD first hired a chemical disposal company to safely remove and dispose of all outdated chemicals. Using the EmployeeSafe SDS Now! system, the district now has 24/7 online access to safety data sheets (SDS), as well as chemical safety specialists and hotlines in the event of a chemical-related emergency.
All custodial staff and science teachers are automatically assigned an online staff training course on how to use and read the SDS and what to do in the event of an emergency such as a chemical spill. In addition, PublicSchoolWORKS provides stickers and posters with the hotline number to place in strategic locations. Yorktown ISD hangs the posters throughout its school buildings so the information is easily accessible.
Now that staff training takes place online, the district’s in-service days can address professional development needs for staff.
“With the time we got back from moving staff training online, we’re able to focus on more curriculum-related issues and classroom matters during in-service days,” said Gee. “For example, our districtwide literacy initiative for students in grades Pre K-2 requires educators to use an online phonics program. We can now use in-service days to train teachers to better utilize this program. We’re able to focus on more effective teaching practices that promote student success.”
Investing in School Safety and Risk Management – Caroline County Public Schools (MD)
Just like all public school systems, Caroline County Public Schools (CCPS) in Denton, MD is required by law to train all district employees on specific safety topics such as bloodborne pathogens, child abuse, and more. CCPS had been using an online training program provided for free by the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE). While CCPS has been using the free online courses to meet training mandates for years, Milton E. Nagel, the Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services at CCPS, needed a true risk management system to help improve school safety for students and staff.
“Staff training is an important component of school safety and the free courses MABE provided helped us meet training mandates, but we needed more,” said Nagel. “We’re a small school system that doesn’t have the in-house resources to manage the many safety processes districts are required to maintain. We wanted to find a provider that could help us manage more than just staff training.”
While attending the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO) International’s Executive Leadership Forum in Las Vegas, Nagel struck up a conversation with Tom Strasburger, PublicSchoolWORKS’ then Vice President, Sales & Marketing, and asked about PublicSchoolWORKS’ offerings.
“Tom was telling me what the EmployeeSafe Suite does, and the next thing I know, he is listing off all of the safety processes our district wanted help managing, and more,” said Nagel. “It took us to a whole new level of school safety and meeting regulatory compliance.”
At the start of the 2016-17 school year, CCPS opted out of the online training courses provided free of charge by MABE and began implementing the EmployeeSafe Suite.
Every CCPS employee, regardless of their job description, now completes their annual training in EmployeeSafe’s Staff Training System. The system automatically deploys training courses on bloodborne pathogens, bullying prevention, discriminatory harassment, child abuse, and more. Once assigned, the system periodically reminds employees to complete training and automatically sends training completion reports to administration when the training deadline passes. For employees who have taken these courses year after year, they can now skip to the end-of-course test to prove their knowledge, which was the most common complaint about the online courses the district used previously. Staff also likes the vast catalog of courses they can take, which is a welcomed addition.
In addition to the Staff Training System, CCPS uses EmployeeSafe’s Staff Accident Management System to report and investigate staff accidents. This replaced the district’s manual, pen and paper process. When an incident or accident occurs, the injured individual now completes an online report, and the system automatically notifies key administrators to investigate when a report is submitted.
CCPS also uses EmployeeSafe’s data sheet system (SDS) that provides both online access to SDSs and access to chemical specialists. SDSs for CCPS chemicals – whether for science labs, cleaning or other purposes – are included in the system, which staff can manually search and print for their use. They can also call a 24-hour hotline manned by chemical safety experts to get SDSs emailed or faxed to them, get chemical information, or get immediate assistance in the event of a chemical related emergency. All custodial staff and any instructor who has access to chemicals in their classes are automatically assigned online staff training on how to use and read the SDSs and what to do in the event of an emergency such as a chemical spill. In addition, PublicSchoolWORKS provides stickers and posters with the hotline number to place in strategic locations. CCPS hangs the posters throughout its school buildings and each of its employees has a sticker with the hotline number taped to the back of their district ID.
The automation of the Staff Training and Staff Accident Management Systems makes it easier for administration to take action. With just a few clicks, administration can see if employees have yet to complete a training course or can check the status of a staff accident report.
“I get emailed about new accident reports almost instantly whereas I used to not find out about accidents for a few days,” said Nagel. “The online accident report is intuitive and adaptive. It forces the injured person to answer specific questions based on how they answered the previous question, which has greatly decreased our need to follow-up with the injured party to determine what happened.”
Switching from the district’s online training courses they received for free to PublicSchoolWORKS has enabled CCPS to manage multiple safety processes in one system.
“I’m a firm believer in ‘you get what you pay for,’” said Nagel. “PublicSchoolWORKS is well-worth the investment. It has given us additional comfort knowing we are better protecting our employees and are in full compliance. If we didn’t have PublicSchoolWORKS, we wouldn’t be able to implement a comprehensive safety plan because we’re so small.”
Making Informed Decisions about Student Behavior – Oak Hills Local School District (OH)
Oak Hills Local School District, located in the Cincinnati suburb of Oak Hills, has been an EmployeeSafe user for many years. Although EmployeeSafe had effectively automated and streamlined staff-related responsibilities such as staff training and accident management, the district was still manually managing student behavior reports.
“Our high school used to have a Dean of Student Services that was responsible for student behavior management,” said John Stoddard, principal of Oak Hills High School. “However, the role was eliminated and the responsibility for student behavior management was assigned to each of our assistant principals.”
Each of the five assistant principals oversees their respective “house,” which consists of a school counselor, a secretary, and approximately 500 students. This house structure allows the assistant principals to split the student caseload so they can get to know their students with the hopes of deterring them from negative behavior. However, adding student behavior management to the assistant principals’ already long list of daily responsibilities was a difficult transition, which relied heavily on paper processes completed by the assistant principals’ secretaries.
One of the assistant principals had used the StudentWatch Suite at a previous district and suggested Stoddard research the Student Behavior Management System because it could be a valuable tool for the assistant principals. After seeing how the system could standardize student behavior management, Stoddard worked with the district’s Director of Operations to implement the Student Behavior Management System at the high school and invited the district’s five elementary schools and three middle schools to use the system, as well.
Oak Hills High School, along with one of the district’s middle and elementary schools, has implemented the Student Behavior Management System. The Student Behavior Management System has made managing student behavior seamless for the assistant principals and has greatly alleviated their secretaries’ workloads because it has eliminated the manual paper processes. When a teacher submits a referral (major infraction), documentation report (minor infraction) or positive report, the Student Behavior Management System may auto-email the appropriate assistant principal to address the behavior concern immediately. Once the assistant principal has met with the student and assigned the appropriate consequence, the principal can communicate the steps taken to the teacher who filed the referral detailing the appropriate information.
“Our staff seems happy because they know the student behavior issues they are reporting are not being neglected,” said Stoddard.
The ability for the school to document each behavior incident helps create a comprehensive record for each student, which subsequently helps the assistant principals determine the most appropriate consequence. Each consequence is recorded in the system, thus ensuring the administrators are not missing any steps and that nothing falls through the cracks.
Stoddard worked with the district’s transportation provider to train the bus drivers to use the Student Behavior Management System, as well. Instead of filling out a three-page carbon copy form that could get lost, bus drivers submit discipline reports the same way teachers do.
After just four days of using the system, teachers already began submitting referrals and documentation reports to the assistant principals. The number of reports submitted has increased on a monthly basis, and although this may sound like a negative, it proves that teachers have embraced the technology.
“Our assistant principals and I are in the Student Behavior Management System daily,” said Stoddard. “It helps identify behavior issues and make some proactive decisions.”
After using the system for a few months, Stoddard and the assistant principals noticed the most common referral offense was for skipping class. After reviewing all of the referrals, they found specific times and locations students were found skipping class and rerouted the hall monitors to those locations.
“Before we used the system, making decisions about student behavior management was like guesswork,” said Stoddard. “Sometimes we would have a perception of what our biggest behavior issues were, but we didn’t have a way to back it up. Now we have this data staring at us, showing us what our biggest issues are so we’re able to better budget our time.”
Achieving Rebates via Robust Safety Services – Anderson School District Three (SC)
A significant geographical distance, paired with paper reporting processes and a lack of a district Risk Manager, made it difficult for Anderson School District Three (ASD3) in Iva, SC to effectively reduce risk, much less be in compliance with all mandates. Risk management duties were distributed across administration roles – the district’s employee benefits manager copied, processed and filed all accident reports; the nurses conducted bloodborne pathogen training with new employees; and, if the district passed a new policy, an office secretary spent hours making paper copies of the policy to send to employees for sign-off.
ASD3 was inspired to update processes after learning about PARR, a property causality and workers’ comp insurance program that provided a 5 percent rebate if the district met 10 requirements. “We were trying to figure out how to meet all of these requirements in-house and it was proving to be quite the project to do on our own,” said Emily Jarrard, Accounts Payable at ASD3. “We needed help.”
ASD3’s Treasurer of Finance Keith Martin first met PublicSchoolWORKS at the South Carolina Association of School Business Officials’ Spring Conference. After explaining the PARR requirements and the potential rebate available, Martin was assured that implementing the EmployeeSafe Suite would help the district meet most of the requirements. ASD3 implemented EmployeeSafe in 2006.
EmployeeSafe’s Staff Accident Management System automatically notifies key site people to investigate the incident and to address the related hazard, as well as alerting the employee benefits manager regarding the incident. If the incident is a claim, the system sends the claim form to the district’s insurance provider when a report is submitted online. The employee benefits manager can now easily process all accident reports, including the OSHA 300 report, and PublicSchoolWORKS’ client services team annually reviews trend reports to help drive prevention planning. The Staff Training System automatically notifies and reminds staff to take their annual bloodborne pathogens training, as well as courses on lock-out tag-out; student medical emergencies; FERPA; active shooter response and more, and to sign off on board policies when required. As part of the safety initiative, some training is now scheduled to address certain types of injuries at certain times of the year, such as slips, trips and falls in November.
Implementing EmployeeSafe allowed ACSD3 to meet eight out the 10 PARR requirements. The district then used internal manpower to meet the remaining two and was awarded the 5 percent rebate – $5,000. The investment in EmployeeSafe helped reduce the number of workers’ comp claims, and subsequently the district’s workers’ comp insurance premium. EmployeeSafe also provided ASD3 with more resources to fully address all compliance requirements. ASD3 now uses the compliance manager to auto-notify key staff and vendors to conduct drills, inspections and other compliance tasks to ensure completion; and the online Safety Data Sheets and telephone access to chemical specialists to improve chemical safety. The management system’s automation gives the district an unprecedented level of accountability and decreases risk and liability. Most importantly, ASD3 now has a comprehensive and sustainable risk management program.
Putting Student Safety First – Wayzata Public Schools (MN)
Wayzata Public Schools in Wayzata, MN is a large, suburban district. Due to being in a significant growth area, the district continues to build schools to keep up with the ever-increasing student population. Serving 3,400 students, Wayzata High School will be the largest high school in the state. With so many students on one campus, the district knew it would have to make risk management a priority. However, after the 2014-2015 school year, the district faced $3.2 million in state budget cuts – leaving the district stuck between wanting to implement new student safety programming and being required to justify the increased costs or scale back expenditures.
When Wayzata Public Schools created a list of processes in need of improvement, student accident reporting was first. Wayzata Public Schools’ existing reporting process relied on the manual completion of an incident form, which was photocopied and then distributed to various parties. After distribution, there was not one repository to keep injury records, which created unnecessary risk. For example, if a student is hurt and the principal does not immediately see the paper form, parents may not be contacted immediately. The lack of a single place to reference records also leaves the health and safety coordinator unable to create a prevention plan because similar incidents may go unnoticed. To decide if the value of implementing new programming was worth the added expenditure, the district began a short pilot of StudentWatch’s Student Accident Reporting System with district nurses.
The Student Accident Reporting System makes the reporting and investigating of student accidents much easier for all parties. As soon as an accident occurs, a staff member submits an online accident report. The system then automatically alerts the principal and other necessary staff via email to take action, thus ensuring the parents are contacted by the principal immediately. A central online incident library maintains the records – and the security of student injury information – so when the health and safety coordinator wants to see if a similar accident has previously occurred, a trend report can shed light on areas that may benefit from the implementation of prevention initiatives.
The nurses felt the reporting process was so intuitive that they were ready to submit and process reports – even though this was beyond the scope of the pilot. The school board and administration were so impressed with the system’s automation and reliability in reducing risk that they chose to fully implement the system.
The Student Accident Reporting System helped accomplish three district goals. First, students are safer because incidents are reported quickly and the district can use centralized data to create prevention plans. Secondly, the reporting process is more efficient – which meets the district’s “operational excellence” goal. Lastly, it helped the district avoid unnecessary risk and associated expenditures, which is required if the district wants to maintain the distinguished “AAA” bond rating it has held since 2008.
Sustaining Safety Continuity for Component Schools and Internally – ONC BOCES (NY)
BOCES Staff: 262
District Staff: 2,964
Otsego Northern Catskills Board of Cooperative Educational Services (ONC BOCES) serves 19 component districts across a 1,661-square-mile region in central New York. Despite this vast coverage area, there is just one Safety Risk Officer to support 12 districts participating in their Safety Risk program. The vast geographic footprint of the service area alone made providing consistent and sustainable safety risk offerings a challenge. An additional challenge for ONC BOCES was the pending retirement of its 20-year tenured Safety Risk Officer.
ONC BOCES component districts relied on the Safety Risk Officer to help them understand and comply with many federal and state regulations — from staff training, to annual updating of written safety plans, to renewing first aid certifications for nurses and staff. Further, the Safety Risk Officer provided expert guidance on all of the typical facility-related requirements like asbestos management plans, handling underground fuel storage, conducting inspections, and more. While difficult to get everything accomplished for the component districts, most tasks are cyclical on a quarterly, annual or biannual basis. The retiring officer had the knowledgebase for updating or revising items with the participating districts down to an art. This knowledge needed to be captured quickly so that her successor could seamlessly continue supporting the districts participating in the BOCES’ Safety Risk program.
ONC BOCES implemented PublicSchoolWORKS’ EmployeeSafe Suite to help support the districts enrolled in the Safety Risk program, as well as to help manage compliance task and training requirements throughout ONC BOCES’ own buildings.
The Compliance Task Management System includes a library of all federal and state-mandated inspections, drills and other compliance tasks, customizable forms, written programs, checklists and other documents. The Staff Training System includes online staff state and federally-mandated courses and district-specific courses. Both the compliance tasks and training are delivered via automated management systems that notify, track and report completion to ensure all requirements are met – all with very limited time and effort required of administrators. Lastly, the Accident Management System immediately alerts the Safety Resource Officer of all staff accidents and notifies appropriate parties of actions they need to take.
The EmployeeSafe management system auto-emails the Safety Resource Officer every time a required compliance task or training deadline is approaching or missed or when an accident report is submitted, thus ensuring that nothing falls through the cracks. Additionally, the online reporting and storage of all records makes compliance reporting much faster and more convenient since all records are centrally located and documented properly.
This streamlined approach gives the Safety Risk Officer more time to support the districts and create more targeted and effective corrective actions based on any trends seen – making him a more strategic asset for the component districts. ONC BOCES’ successful implementation of EmployeeSafe is seen as a best-practices precedent for other BOCES looking for additional support in their Safety Risk programs.
Prioritizing Safety Despite Slashed Budgets – Belle Plaine Unified School District 357 (KS)
Belle Plaine Unified School District (USD) 357 in Belle Plaine, KS, implemented WORKS’ EmployeeSafe Suite in the fall of 2012. The additional risk management support was a welcome resource since administrators throughout the district wore so many hats. However, after the 2014-2015 school year, Belle Plaine USD 357 experienced additional cuts in public school funds from the state – leaving administrators responsible for reevaluating every district expenditure.
When reevaluating each product or service the district was paying for, Superintendent Dr. Rose Kane asked the following questions to determine whether the value of implementation was worth the cost:
- What is the need and how great is it?
- Is it a matter of compliance?
- Will this make a process or job more efficient?
- Is there a way to negotiate pricing or scale down the service?
- Will employees use the new service or product?
Belle Plaine USD 357 asked these questions to decide if the value of using EmployeeSafe was worth the cost.
One of the district’s top needs was deploying required safety training and ensuring employee completion of these trainings. The district pinpointed blood-borne pathogens staff training as a need because of the federal requirement. Before using EmployeeSafe, the school nurses conducted this training during an in-service day. However, due to state budget cuts, the district cut nursing personnel and now conducts this training online.
Using EmployeeSafe’s online staff safety training system, the lone district nurse’s training workload has dramatically decreased while the percentage of timely completion of trainings has increased. Instead of deploying the training in person, employees watch the training online and complete a short quiz at their convenience. The automation in the system manages training via auto-email notifications, and the auto-reporting to administrators lets each know their staff’s training status. Additionally, all training records are centrally located online so the district can easily pull a report proving all staff members are trained should they be audited.
The district felt the value of EmployeeSafe was worth the cost because it met a top priority need, made the process easier for all staff and provided the assurance that the district was compliant should it get audited. Even though the district had access to some online training through its insurance company, it chose EmployeeSafe because the comprehensive suite provides a complete solution for compliance requirements, including training.
Championing the Use of Automation for School Safety – Winnebago CUSD #323 (IL)
In Illinois, Regional Offices of Education (ROEs) provide a number of services to the districts they serve, including safety audits called technical assistance visits that look for evidence and documentation that districts are in compliance with district, state and federal mandates. Boone-Winnebago ROE (ROE #4) serves 12 districts, including Winnebago Community Unit School District (CUSD) #323.
When ROE #4 finished its technical assistance visit of Winnebago CUSD #323 in 2014, a major infraction the district was cited for was a lack of compliance with mandated safety trainings. Of the 30 mandated trainings, Winnebago CUSD #323 was only compliant with four.
After the citation, Scott Bloomquist, superintendent of Winnebago CUSD #323, began looking for solutions to abate the issues. Prior to his current position, Bloomquist worked for a district that was using two separate vendors to deploy online staff training and then track completion and compliance with mandates. Bloomquist wanted to find a single solution for both tasks. After receiving information from PublicSchoolWORKS in Spring 2014, Bloomquist contacted several superintendents using the EmployeeSafe Suite to ask their opinions of its impact. The superintendents’ first-hand testimonials led Winnebago CUSD #323, as well as Winnebago County Special Education Cooperative, the district’s special education services provider, and Kinnikinnick CCSD #131, a neighboring school district, to implement EmployeeSafe. EmployeeSafe addressed not only the areas in which the district was cited, but it also addressed other needs such as managing compliance tasks, safety data sheets (SDS) and accident management.
EmployeeSafe’s automatic deployment of online staff safety training and compliance tasks ensures staff completes their requirements at their convenience while meeting compliance deadlines. The online training process provides more flexibility for staff to take training at their leisure and allows schools to utilize valuable in-service training days for education-focused topics. The automation of the compliance tasks ensures completion of drills, safety meetings and inspections before the deadline, while providing appropriate recordkeeping of completed compliance tasks without burdening administrators. Winnebago CUSD #323 also moved its employee accident reporting process online to improve documentation and recordkeeping. It also moved its SDS catalog online, eliminating the need for the binders.
Winnebago CUSD #323 was able to improve organizational efficiency, and ensure compliance while relieving pressure on administration.
“The roll-out went better than I was anticipating for both certified and noncertified staff,” said Bloomquist. “Even with the large number of teachers reporting for the first day of school, we were able to complete the first section of training quickly. The head of our food service department even reserved a computer lab for her staff so they could quickly knock out their required training.”
Improving Student Safety, While Saving Time and Money – FHSD & Mesa (OH, AZ)
Forest Hills School District
Mesa Public Schools
In 2010, Forest Hills School District (FHSD) in Cincinnati, OH, contemplated a major change in its safety program that would have them leave the protection of a workers’ compensation pool and become self-insured. School districts can reap substantial savings by becoming self-insured; however, the risks are greater if they do not effectively manage their safety program. Becoming self-insured is a serious decision requiring intensive planning and extensive evaluation of current safety processes to understand the strengths and gaps that need to be addressed.
After evaluation, FHSD discovered two aspects of its safety program that needed improvement: staff training and staff accident management. The existing online safety training program used by FHSD, although provided at no cost, was too time consuming to manage and did not fully address the district’s need for a comprehensive safety program. Additionally, the manual paper process for managing accidents was outdated and ineffective in addressing staff incidents and claims.
+ + +
Schools are required to provide ready access to (Material) Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for chemicals brought into schools for proper use, understanding safety issues and proper actions to take in case of a chemical emergency. Managing and maintaining updated and new safety data sheets, and ensuring that staff is properly trained to effectively use them, is a time consuming and difficult responsibility.
Mesa Public Schools (Mesa) in Mesa, AZ, felt the burden of meeting this requirement and sought a solution to more effectively manage this safety compliance requirement. Mesa began the process by implementing another online SDS provider, but found it difficult to get the system up and running, and staff trained within the district’s required timeline.
Despite the different needs of the two districts, both FHSD and Mesa found their safety management solution with PublicSchoolWORKS.
- FHSD selected the WORKS EmployeeSafe Suite to manage both staff training and staff accident reporting.
- Mesa switched to WORKS to begin using the MSDS Now! – Silver online binder and training systems.
Switching from other vendors’ less effective programs to the PublicSchoolWORKS user-friendly, automated, streamlined processes, both districts directly improved the way they met requirements.
- Staff Training – FHSD had used an online tool, but the old program did not meet all the compliance requirements, plus was cumbersome to manage and maintain. Since the EmployeeSafe Suite Training System automatically emails staff to complete required training, and auto-emails reports to administrators with listing staff who have not yet completed their training. The HR department gets involved only when the system auto-emails them a final district-wide report showing which staff members did not complete the required training.
- Staff Accident Management – Managing accidents can be time consuming and inefficient requiring staff to tie up time to complete forms that may be misplaced or have incomplete information. Often administrators spend more time working the reporting process instead of managing prevention and safety improvements. With EmployeeSafe Suite, FHSD staff now submit an online accident report as soon as it happens. The system then auto-notifies key staff and administrators to investigate or address this hazard, and auto-emails the FROI to its MCO and TPA, speeding their involvement to address claims. The accident management system even integrates with the Training System to auto-enroll and notify the injured employee to be retrained…all with zero effort from the administration, who now can focus on other critical needs.
- Online (M)SDS Sheets – MSDS Now! – Silver allows MPS staff to find SDSs online, print labels and speak with chemical safety specialists when needed, eliminating the need for maintaining and housing traditional SDS binders, while lightening the load for administrators. Included is online training to improve safety and instructional posters, labels and other tools to educate staff how to access SDSs using the MSDS Now! – Silver system.
Both districts greatly improved processes and gained peace of mind by switching to PublicSchoolWORKS. With EmployeeSafe Suite, FHSD improved reporting accidents while decreasing administration time needed to managing staff training and staff accident reporting. FHSD had a successful first year being self-insured . . . and even saved $211,000!
Solving Student Behavior Problems Before They Start – Kings Local School District & Dublin City Schools (OH)
Kings Local School District
Dublin City School District
School districts traditionally develop behavior rules to help students, staff and parents understand student behavior expectations and consequences for inappropriate behaviors. One of the biggest frustrations is that the principals and teachers do not have systems that are effective in helping them manage the discipline process.
When students misbehave, it is important to have a system in place to allow educators to report incidents and administrators to track them and then communicate with appropriate stakeholders. It is also important for this system to be easy to use and automated to ensure reports are submitted and followed up on in a timely manner and stakeholders are notified of actions taken.
Every school district deals with student disciplinary issues, however, it is how they are tracked and reported that sets districts apart. Additionally, districts that acknowledge positive student behaviors while addressing behaviors that are not appropriate can ward off future disciplinary issues and improve education in the classroom.
Kings Local School District and Dublin City School District, both in Ohio, needed to streamline student behavior management processes, but each for their own unique reasons.
Kings Junior High School applied for the Ohio Department of Education’s Ohio Schools to Watch (OSTW) program, that recognizes exemplary middle schools based on a number of criteria. To qualify for the distinction, the program required that students know and meet the behavioral, academic and social expectations of staff, parents, district and community.
For Columbus-suburb Dublin City Schools, the 10th largest district in the state with 19 schools and 15,000 enrolled students, efficiently reporting and addressing student behaviors, in addition to all of the other tasks associated with student discipline, was difficult to accomplish because of less-than-effective tools and the district’s size.
Both Kings Local School District and Dublin City Schools wanted to streamline and improve their student behavior management processes.
Kings Local School District implemented the PublicSchoolWORKS Student Behavior Management System in 2007 and Dublin City Schools implemented the system in 2008.
“PublicSchoolWORKS reduced the amount of paperwork and files in centralized student discipline data,” said Joe Santa-Emma, an assistant principal in Dublin City Schools.
“We now have the ability to organize data based on any criteria and the system addresses the crisis many schools are experiencing…having to do more with less. And we don’t worry about the state reporting requirements, as it is done for us.”
The PublicSchoolWORKS Student Behavior Management System automates and streamlines the administrative process of student behavior concerns, thus improving and speeding up the communication between teachers and administrators. In addition, the system allows educators to acknowledge and keep track of positive student behaviors.
The Student Behavior Management System allows administrators to more effectively track and address the following:
- Referrals / Major Infractions
- Documentation Reports / Minor Infractions
- Positive Behaviors
- Behavior Trend Reporting
- Communication to Appropriate Staff
- Consequence Management
- Automated State-Record Reporting System
Despite their different goals and reasons for implementing, PublicSchoolWORKS was the solution for both Kings Local and Dublin City Schools because it gave each what they needed to improve their programs and processes.
In the span of three years, Kings Junior High School received two prestigious awards. They were one of only three schools in the state to be named an Ohio School to Watch, a prestigious designation. PublicSchoolWORKS was deemed to have been a key piece in achieving this recognition since the Student Behavior Management System helped address key metrics. Additionally, the assistant principal Dave Winebrenner was named one of 17 National Outstanding Assistant Principals by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP).
“The true beauty of the Student Behavior Management System is the centralized location,” said Winebrenner. “Because all staff members have access, it empowers our staff to report what happened during a particular incident in their own words.”
Dublin City Schools was able to easily streamline processes in order to effectively address all discipline issues — whether major, minor or positive — while increasing effectiveness and recordkeeping. Because of this, Dublin City Schools remains to be one of Ohio’s premier school districts, bolstering its statewide reputation for academic and extracurricular excellence.
“The Student Behavior Management System has improved education in the classroom,” said Santa-Emma. “It creates a better environment for students by eliminating bullying, promoting better attendance and rewarding positive behavior.”
“It solves problems before they start.”
Becoming Self-Insured: When the Benefit is Worth the Risk – Forest Hills School District (OH)
Choosing between staying in a workers’ comp pool or being self-insured was a big decision Forest Hills School District (FHSD) in Cincinnati, OH, was considering in 2010. There was an obvious benefit that FHSD received by being in a pool in that they were able to share the risk of staff injuries with other public employers. The downside was that FHSD did not receive a direct benefit for improving safety and reducing risk because these improvements were shared with other employers in the pool.
The district found that it was paying $300,000 to $400,000 annually in workers’ comp insurance premiums, yet the actual claim losses were significantly less which was a result of sharing its positive results with others in the pool. FHSD decided it made sense to become self-insured and keep the savings in-house.
To counteract the loss of the pool which had provided a safety net, it was essential they have an effective program to help the district stay on top of their safety compliance requirements and keep the savings in the district. They reevaluated their current staff training program and their accident reporting and other safety processes and found they were insufficient to take the risk associated with going self-insured.
For years, FHSD used an online training system to train staff. Their staff accident reporting process relied on a dated paper process. This resulted in a waiting pattern for the claim to be processed and zero accountability for who investigated and processed the claim.
Because FHSD was going self-insured, the district was looking for comprehensive system to implement, manage and sustain their safety program while ensuring compliance. This led them to change to PublicSchoolWORKS.
The district determined the PublicSchoolWORKS comprehensive systems, content and support provided the complete safety program needed to support their new self-insurance program. FHSD switched to PublicSchoolWORKS in December of 2011.
With PublicSchoolWORKS’ EmployeeSafe Suite, FHSD was able to revamp its safety program to ensure safety and compliance in the following ways:
- New Accident Management Process – Staff simply goes to the district website to submit an accident report as soon as it happens. Because of the automation of the system, FHSD gets complete reports immediately. The system auto-notifies the appropriate administrators to investigate or address hazards. Additionally, if there is a claim, the system auto-notifies its TPA to get them involved more quickly. Finally, the system is integrated with the training system which can auto-enroll and notify staff to be retrained; all with zero effort from administration.
- New Online Staff Training System frees the HR department from scheduling and managing mandated training. Staff members now are now auto-notified when to complete required training via email and administrators are auto-emailed training reports letting them know which of their staff is out of compliance. The HR department only gets involved when the system auto-emails a district-wide noncompliance report stating which staff members did not complete the required training.
- Compliance Tasks – When a task needs to be completed, whether drills, inspections, chemical safety, IAQ or other, the Safety Task Management System notifies the appropriate staff or vendor with instructions, forms and any additional materials needed to complete the task, thus ensuring they are completed correctly, timely and the FHSD way.
- Required OSHA Reporting – The system virtually eliminates the time and effort FHSD staff used to spend producing the required OSHA reports to be compliant with PERRP, the regulatory body in Ohio.
- Implementation Process – The PublicSchoolWORKS Client Services Team worked directly with FHSD to develop their implementation plan and then set-up the system to meet the requirements of the district. The result was an improvement in safety with limited involvement by administration while eliminating liability concerns.
The move to being self-insured, although considered a leap of faith for some, was a well-planned and executed venture for FHSD. Just two years after implementation, the district has already saved more than $300,000 while having peace of mind knowing nothing would fall through the cracks.
Easing the Stress of Ancillary Services Management – Kings Local School District (OH)
For Steve Waldmann, Kings Local School District’s Manager of School Business Affairs, dealing with daily facilities issues and ancillary services operations is not an easy task. Waldmann is responsible for guaranteeing that the seven schools within the district are running smoothly. This includes facilities maintenance, transportation services, cafeteria operations, state and federally mandated compliance tasks, as well as managing the staff who run these departments.
“My morning starts with a conversation with my maintenance staff. I assign any work orders that came in during the night or previous day’s requests that were not assigned, so that we are all on the same page in terms of what the staff will be working on,” said Waldmann. “Then I start chasing down our HVAC issues to make sure we don’t have any surprises with a building not having AC, heat or other problems.”
“In addition to these responsibilities, we have to deal emergencies that pop up in the district which can interfere with some of these expectations and certain compliance tasks that you have to do as well,” said Waldmann.
Kings Local School District implemented PublicSchoolWORKS’ EmployeeSafe Suite to help automate the process and timely completion of many of the district’s required tasks.
“There is a huge list of operational responsibilities that are associated with running a school district,” said Waldmann. “I spent a lot of time searching for the right mechanism to deal with just the management of work orders. We needed a work order system that was easy to operate and automated the process of managing work orders. While initially I was only looking for one piece, with PublicSchoolWORKS I got the whole pie. The system provides a great mechanism for ensuring we are meeting compliance standards and training as well.”
“The EmployeeSafe Suite is like providing me with an administrative assistant,” said Waldmann. “It helps me do my job better.”
The EmployeeSafe Suite helps Waldmann to manage the following tasks:
- Staff Accidents, Student Accidents and Hazards – The online reporting tools make it easy for staff to submit reports and the system automatically notifies the appropriate people based on their responsibilities, including the supervisor to investigate the accident, our MCO and TPA if it is a claim, ensuring that cases get handled in a proper and timely manner.
- Preventive Measures for Safety – The web-based platform allows Waldmann to analyze data quickly so he can find trends in accidents and take the appropriate maintenance action or to have training or safety tasks added to reduce the chance of a future occurrence.
- Required Safety Tasks – The system includes predefined state and federally mandated safety tasks (drills, inspections, IAQ, etc.) and customizable forms. PublicSchoolWORKS keeps up with new and changing legislation and develops the appropriate content (safety tasks, written programs and more) so that he does not have to worry about it. The “set it and forget system” is programmed to automatically notify the appropriate staff or contractor to complete their required safety tasks. Waldmann only needs to be involved if the system notifies him that somebody has not completed a task, freeing him up to deal with day-to-day issues.
- Staff Safety Training – The “set it and forget it” online training system completely manages staff training, auto-notifying each staff member to complete their training and then auto-notifying supervisors of their staff who did not complete it. New hires no longer fall through the cracks as they are automatically assigned and notified to take training. The training system has freed up professional development days. Waldmann is only involved if he receives either a report about his staff or a district-wide report.
- New Legislation and Associated Safety Tasks – When new legislation or changes to state or federal mandates come up, PublicSchoolWORKS keeps up with and creates the required safety tasks, reporting mechanisms and more to ensure Kings Local is in compliance. As the new tools are created, PublicSchoolWORKS contacts Waldmann to let him know what is needed and then sets up the process to meet Waldmann’s and the district’s expectations.
Kings Local School District has moved to an automated and more effective facility operations and ancillary services process. The web-based, automated system manages the expectations of the district, tracks outcomes, stores the records and provides analytics of accident and hazard reports, permitting Waldmann to quickly assign maintenance work orders to prevent future accidents. The online training guarantees that staff members are up-to-date on policies and procedures. All of these management functions promote a culture of efficiency and safety.
Additionally, PublicSchoolWORKS has taken a substantial load off of the district by keeping up with legislative requirements and ensuring the district is in compliance. PublicSchoolWORKS helps Kings Local Schools continually evolve its safety program.
“I cannot be successful in my work without the resources that are available from PublicSchoolWORKS,” said Waldmann. “PublicSchoolWORKS delivers and supports the correct package for school districts.”
Continuous Improvement of a Risk Management Program – Chinook’s Edge School Division No. 73 (Canada)
Chinook’s Edge School Division No. 73
No. of Buildings: 45
Chinook’s Edge School Division No. 73 in Alberta, Canada, puts enormous effort toward its annual safety audit. In 2010, a successful audit allowed the division to apply for Alberta’s prestigious Certificate of Recognition (COR). The COR distinction, funded by the Office of Alberta Employment and Immigration, earned Chinook’s Edge a financial incentive through Alberta’s Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) Partnerships in Injury Reduction (PIR) program.
Despite achieving the COR distinction, Chinook’s Edge is still required to conduct annual audits. The Alberta Safety Council, Alberta Human Resources and Employment, Alberta Association for Safety Partnerships (AASPA) and a third-party consultant group all contribute their expertise to evaluate the division’s school safety program.
The results from its 2012 audit showed an increase in staff incidents. The audit also scored the division’s Ongoing Inspections strategy at a 65 percent, a low score for the award-winning division, citing that the division needed to:
“ensure employees responsible for conducting inspections are aware of their responsibilities for completed or arranging for corrective actions to be completed in a timely manner,” and “ensure that all deficiencies identified in the inspections are corrected and are followed-up on to ensure that the correction actions are appropriate.”
Chinook’s Edge turned to PublicSchoolWORKS to effectively reverse these trends.
To see why there was an increase in staff accidents, Lonsberry turned to PublicSchoolWORKS’ Staff Accident Reporting System to see if there were trends in accidents. After accessing a trend report, Lonsberry found that the increase in accidents involved slick surfaces during winter months.
In regards to the Ongoing Investigation score, Lonsberry knew it was going to be more effective to train individual sites to handle inspections instead of traveling to each site and completing it himself due to the mere size of the division and a lack of authorized division staff.
The division was able to utilize the EmployeeSafe Suite to solve both issues.
The following features of the EmployeeSafe Suite allowed Chinook’s Edge to address the issues highlighted in their annual audit:
- Trend Reporting – Because all staff accidents are reported to the same system, Lonsberry was able to view all the staff accident data to see when and where accidents were occurring to determine a cause.
- Customization – PublicSchoolWORKS’ completely-customizable system allowed the division to implement programs specific to its individual needs. Chinook’s Edge developed a Safe Winter Walking Program and implemented it via PublicSchoolWORKS’ Staff Training System. A specialized compliance task was developed and scheduled to automatically notify key individuals at each site to complete the inspection. A follow-up task was created and scheduled to ensure that the deficiencies observed during the inspection are dealt with in a proper and timely manner.
- Auto-notification – Any time a task or training needs to be completed or a staff member submits a report, the EmployeeSafe Suite auto-notifies the appropriate staff member. If a task is not completed, the system then auto-notifies the designated administrator with a non-compliance report. This ensures that only those administrators authorized to view the information have access, eliminating liability issues.
After implementing the winter weather training and tasks, Chinook’s Edge experienced terrific results from the 2013 COR audit:
- The Winter Walking Safety Program via the Staff Training System, Chinook’s Edge saw a reduction to only one staff incident involving slick surfaces.
- The specialized compliance task and reminder for the individual site’s inspection requirement helped the division receive high marks in the Ongoing Inspections category. During this year’s post-audit meeting, a health and safety consultant from the third party firm listed the division’s ongoing inspections strategy as a strength in its safety program. She stated that switching to the new strategy was, “a great improvement” and “seems to be well-received.”
Using annual audit reports as feedback is essential to evolving a school safety program. By identifying weaknesses, Chinook’s Edge improved its school safety program and further promoted a culture of school safety.
Streamlining Incident Reporting and Investigation to Secure Student Safety – Cleveland ISD (TX)
Student safety incidents, whether bullying or student violence, are serious matters that should be handled with swift and appropriate action. However, some school districts have dated systems that create inefficient communication channels between educators and administration and slow down or hinder the process of dealing with issues.
Cleveland Independent School District in Cleveland, TX, was experiencing severe bullying and student violence incidents throughout the district. Like most districts, Cleveland ISD staff members handled the situation by handwriting an incident report and submitting it to the appropriate building administrator.
This process of reporting incidents leaves room for mistakes. Staff members often leave out information because reporting documents can be unwieldy and difficult to use. Missing crucial information makes for a long and, most likely, inconclusive investigation. Also, tracking paper incident reports can be a major inconvenience. Papers get shuffled or lost, further impeding the investigation process.
Cleveland ISD also did not have any training for staff or students on how to handle a bullying or student violence incident. To ensure the safety of their students district-wide, Cleveland ISD began searching for a solution.
At the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year, Cleveland ISD implemented PublicSchoolWORKS’ EmployeeSafe Suite and Student Bullying and Violence Prevention Program (SBVPP).
The Assistant Superintendent of Special Programs at Cleveland ISD, Karin Miller, chose PublicSchoolWORKS because of its ability to automate safety measures associated with student bullying and violence incidents.
“Implementing the PublicSchoolWORKS system allows us to easily report and gather data we need when making decisions about student safety,” said Miller. “Staff members are now trained on key student safety topics such as bullying, suicide prevention and depression in students. The program also gives both students and parents the ability to confidentially report incidents after which the system auto-notifies administrators, thus ensuring that reports are being addressed quickly.”
The EmployeeSafe Suite and SBVPP help facilitate the following administrative tasks related to student safety in a timely and consistent manner:
- Staff Safety Training – The “set it and forget it” online training system auto-notifies each staff member to complete their training and then auto-notifies supervisors of the staff that did not complete it.
- Student Training – The online content gives students access to information about bullying and how to report a bullying incident.
- Anonymous Reporting – With the SBVPP, students can confidentially report details about the incident.
- Parent InfoCenter – This award-winning parent portal is an online tool where parents can view the same safety training given to school personnel.
- 24-Hour Emergency Hotline -This 24/7 hotline allows students to speak with live operators about bullying or other student safety issues like depression or suicide.
After its first year of implementation, Cleveland ISD has been able to develop a solid safety framework and return to the business of education.
Taking the Worry Out of OSHA Compliance – Montgomery County Educational Service Center (OH)
Districts Supported: 17
ESC Staff: 330
As Montgomery County Educational Service Center’s Director of Human Resources, Beverly Broestl oversees the acquisition of new employees, staff training, teacher licensure, as well as the health and safety of the Center’s 330 employees.
In addition to all of these responsibilities, Broestl also has to ensure that all of her schools are in compliance with the numerous Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and state-specific requirements that schools face. These tasks can include ensuring staff members have completed required safety training, MSDS access meets federal standards, chemicals are properly labeled in classrooms and that mandatory school-wide drills have occurred. In addition, she is responsible for the annual OSHA 300 reporting, which can take weeks to compile, taking time that administrators do not have available.
“Compliance was always on my mind,” said Broestl. “We constantly worried about an OSHA visit. We were nervous that they would find something that we missed.”
The Center heard about PublicSchoolWORKS through the Southwestern Ohio Educational Purchasing Council (SWEPC). After researching and evaluating the system, the Center implemented PublicSchoolWORKS in April 2010.
To ensure complete compliance with the many OSHA and state-specific requirements they faced, the Center implemented PublicSchoolWORKS EmployeeSafe Suite. It includes all the necessary content and automates the tracking, management and completion of compliance tasks, staff accident reporting and training. EmployeeSafe Suite addresses:
- New Legislation and Associated Compliance Tasks – PublicSchoolWORKS creates the required training, safety tasks (drills, inspections, etc.), written programs, forms and reporting mechanisms to ensure the Center is in compliance. PublicSchoolWORKS keeps Broestl up to speed on the new legislation and implements training and/or tasks associated with the new mandates. Broestl only needs to be involved if the system notifies her that somebody has not completed training or a required safety task, truly encompassing the “set it and forget it system.”
- Electronic MSDS Resources – The EmployeeSafe MSDS Now! – Bronze system provides for a safer, more expeditious way to provide access to MSDS. Staff may either go online to access, or more importantly, call and talk to a chemical safety person thus eliminating the need for MSDS binders. And, it allows employees to easily get MSDS sheets or information on substances they bring into the classroom.
- Staff Accidents and Hazards – The online reporting tools make it easy for staff to submit reports and the system automatically notifies the appropriate administrators, ensuring that accidents get investigated and processed properly and timely.
- Staff Training – The “set it and forget it” online training system completely manages staff training, auto-notifying each staff member to complete their training and then auto-notifying supervisors when staff did not complete it. Also, new hires no longer fall through the cracks since they are automatically assigned training and notified to take it with no effort from administration. The training system has freed up professional development days that used to be dedicated to safety workshops.
The automation within the EmployeeSafe system has allowed Broestl to reallocate the time and energy she used for OSHA and state-specific compliance to other important matters.
Instead of maintaining MSDS binders, employees now go online or call the chemical specialists from EmployeeSafe’s MSDS Now! – Bronze system, improving safety for staff.
Broestl no longer has to track down employees to complete training. Staff are notified to complete training and supervisors are automatically sent reports on their staff that have not completed their training. Broestl is automatically sent district level non-compliance training reports letting her know who has not completed their assignments.
Broestl can also pull reports about what types of accidents occur most frequently in order to effectively prevent further injuries and potential Worker’s Compensation claims.
Using the EmployeeSafe Suite, the Center was able to streamline Human Resources and other administrative processes, saving valuable time and money and reducing risk.
“PublicSchoolWORKS takes away the knot in my stomach,” said Broestl. “It takes away that worry, day and night, that I am forgetting something. It is peace of mind.”
Acquisition of Certificate of Recognition – Chinook’s Edge School Division No. 73 (Canada)
Earning a Certificate of Recognition (COR) for workplace safety was a major goal for Chinook’s Edge School Division 73 in central Alberta, Canada. Meeting the safety standards required for certification would not only significantly reduce injury rates it would also earn the division premium rebates through the Workers Compensation Board’s (WCB) Partnerships in Injury Reduction (PIR) program.
As the sole safety officer for the rural division’s 38 campuses, Linden Lonsberry was too busy traveling the 5,500 miles per year necessary to conduct investigations, train or re-train workers, make safety recommendations, and address hazard and near-miss reports. He needed more time to develop a health and safety program that met the rigorous standards put forth by the WCB.
Lonsberry tested the EmployeeSafe Suite in 2007 and realized that the program was what he needed to help implement the school divisions’ safety program and control worker compensation and liability-related costs.
Lonsberry uses the system to schedule, manage, and sustain his safety program, including staff training, incident management, compliance tasks (inspections, drills and other tasks), and more.
- Staff training includes course content and management. Courses are scheduled and employees are automatically notified to take training. After course due dates are passed, the system sends reports to supervisors letting them know who has not completed training.
- The compliance manager addresses non-training requirements by notifying appropriate individuals when drills, inspections and other tasks need to take place and tracks them to ensure completion.
- Incident management and staff safety reporting automates the process to ensure that investigations are completed and that hazards are dealt with in order to reduce risk.
The system frees up Lonsberry to focus on risk reduction initiatives and safety inspections are now done at each school at least five times per year, which was not thought possible prior to implementing the program.
By late 2009, Lonsberry felt Chinook’s Edge was ready for the external audit that would determine whether or not they would be awarded the COR. Independent auditors spent a week reviewing documents and interviewing staff at specific school sites. In all, they conducted 109 interviews with school staff at all levels, from custodians to principals.
With the help of EmployeeSafe Suite, Lonsberry knew the required tasks had been completed and he was able to easily provide the division’s inspection documents for the auditors’ review. He was also able to provide its orientation and safety training information for their appraisal.
In order to be eligible for a COR audit, a health and safety program has to consist of the following eight elements:
- Management, leadership and organizational commitment
- Hazard identification and assessment
- Hazard Control
- Ongoing Inspections
- Emergency response
- Qualification, orientation and training
- Accident and incident investigation
- Program administration
“PublicSchoolWORKS helped us meet the COR requirements, with four out of the eight elements being completely automated making them hands-off for administration,” said Lonsberry. EmployeeSafe automates emergency response, qualification, orientation and training, accident and incident investigation and program administration.
Chinook’s Edge received the COR in early 2010. Of the 78 divisions in Alberta, only a handful has earned certification. “A safety audit is very difficult to pass, especially the first time,” said Lonsberry. “I was thrilled that we passed on the first try.”
Receiving the COR has earned the division a 20 percent reduction in WCB premiums – a savings of approximately $43,000 per year. Even before Chinook’s Edge started the audit process, the improvements from implementing EmployeeSafe resulted in fewer injuries and a reduction in injury-related costs, and the dollar amount of workers’ compensation claims has dropped each year. The division’s WCB claims totaled nearly $250,000 in 2003; they are now approximately $20,000, putting Chinook’s Edge 51.69 percent below the industry average for WCB claims.
Staff Training Management System – Northwest Regional Education Service District (OR)
During the twentieth century, the Oregon State Legislature created education service districts (ESDs) for the purpose of providing various services to school districts located in different regions of the state. The Northwest Regional ESD is Oregon’s largest and most diverse education service district, serving 20 “component” school districts in all.
For the Northwest Regional ESD faculty and other districts employee training often occurred on one day in each district, leaving some employees not able to attend. Additionally, federal mandates required that substitute teachers receive the same safety training as regularly employed teachers, but since substitutes moved from school to school and district to district, it was a struggle to keep track of which substitutes had not completed the appropriate training and whether one district’s training process met the requirements of another’s.
As the then substitute support clerk for Northwest Regional ESD, Scott Cummins volunteered to take on the training of substitute teachers. This ensured that all substitute teachers had the same training as the district’s permanent teachers and could be placed anywhere in the district. “Our training was a mishmash of several sources and we were paying per course, per person,” he reported.
When Oregon passed laws requiring additional safety courses, adding to the array of resources became a costly prospect. At first, Northwest Regional ESD opted to build a course, investing close to $20,000. However, as the state required even more training, the agency asked Cummins to find an alternative. “We needed something holistic enough to meet state requirements while meeting the needs of individual districts,” he said.
At the same time, one of the Northwest Regional ESD’s component districts, St Helens, was also looking for safety training options. When they came across PublicSchoolWORKS, they referred Cummins to the company. After reviewing the EmployeeSafe online training courses, he implemented the modules at the end of the 2008-09 school year resulting in an 85 percent adoption rate by the districts under his supervision. Now, Northwest Regional ESD provides online safety courses to the districts’ regular teachers and to its substitute teachers.
During the summer of 2009, Cummins was given the new title of application specialist. He serves as the liaison between the school districts and PublicSchoolWORKS, in addition to his substitute teacher support duties. When the 2009 Oregon Legislative Assembly passed HB 2062, which addressed sexual misconduct within K-12 schools, Cummins researched the legislation, let districts know about the new law and then contacted PublicSchoolWORKS to arrange appropriate training. PublicSchoolWORKS was able to supply this state-mandated training and also worked with the Oregon Youth Sports Association to create content for the Concussions for Coaches course.
In Northwest Regional ESD’s second year of using the PublicSchoolWORKS EmployeeSafe courses, OSHA audited the agency’s bloodborne pathogens training and gave the course an extremely positive evaluation. “I was also able to use the Staff Training System to quickly send them a list of all the districts doing the training,” said Cummins. “Previously, I would have had to do a spreadsheet, which would have taken me two weeks.”
Other benefits of EmployeeSafe’s online courses include:
- Automatically tracks individual substitute teacher’s completion of the online courses and sends automatic reports about individuals who did not complete a required course.
- Substitutes who work in multiple districts only have to go through the training once to be certified for work in all districts.
- Courses are available 24/7 and can be completed over time.
- The online Staff Training System facilitates the exchange of training data between the ESDs.
- District reports verify when a new hire has completed training and is eligible for a permanent position.
The Results and Future Plans
“Within a month or two of the school year starting, I reached 100 percent training completion with one-tenth of the effort,” said Cummins. The school districts Northwest Regional ESD serves have benefited so much from the streamlined, centralized model that many have opted to purchase additional EmployeeSafe Suite features. The St. Helens School District pioneered the use of the full EmployeeSafe Suite of automated staff safety training, employee accident management, compliance task management (addresses non-training requirements), OSHA 300 reporting systems, MSDS, staff safety reporting, safety document management and staff telephone helplines. “Each year, more districts add new features,” said Cummins, “Making PublicSchoolWORKS an even more holistic solution for us.”
Automating Student Accident Management – Vandalia-Butler City Schools (OH)
For Business Manager, Chuck Stewart, important student accident paperwork became hard to track, manage, and complete. Each year he was tasked with keeping track of student accidents occurring on school grounds, all by using a paper and pen process. In addition, Stewart was tasked with the responsibility of evaluating data to prevent future accidents. With no easy way to analyze the accidents taking place, Stewart was constantly chasing people and paperwork at multiple buildings which made it difficult to organize and deal with prevention initiatives and ensure that they were being handled by the appropriate person and in a timely manner.
“It was a very difficult task to track all of the student incidents and where they were occurring,” said Stewart. “The amount of paperwork filed when accidents occurred and the time required to locate and mobilize the appropriate individuals to manage the accident to completion was taking up a huge amount of my time.”
When Vandalia-Butler City Schools implemented PublicSchoolWORKS’ StudentWatch Suite, all of their student accident reporting was handled automatically through PublicSchoolWORKS’ online management tools. With the student accident management system, administrators are automatically notified to get involved. The time and date-stamps key accident information to protect the district, and provides data to reduce the chance of future incidents. This allowed Stewart to focus on the business of education.
“The system is managing every report, notifying the appropriate person to intervene and tracking the report to completion to ensure that nothing is falling through the cracks,” said Stewart. “The StudentWatch Suite completely eliminates paper tracking which has saved valuable administrative time and money.”
“All activities within the StudentWatch Suite are handled through auto notifications and tracked to completion,” said Stewart.
- Reporting tools allow a district to see trends in accidents for students
- Automation mobilizes key staff to ensuring timely and proper documentation
The administration at Vandalia-Butler City Schools has found the online capabilities of PublicSchoolWORKS’ StudentWatch Suite to be extremely valuable. The Suite’s ability to auto-notify administration of problem areas has created a safer school environment, in addition to bringing more organization and awareness to staff and students. In addition, the district has seen reductions in insurance claims.
“The StudentWatch Suite is creating a safer school environment for our staff and students while saving our district money,” Stewart said. “Making the move to PublicSchoolWORKS was the best choice for our district, and it keeps getting better.”
Automating Safety Training & Staff Accident Management – Vandalia-Butler City Schools (OH)
For Business Manager, Chuck Stewart, important safety training paperwork became hard to track, file, follow-up on and complete. Every year he had to manage the training of employees and track staff accidents all by using a paper and pen process. In addition, he was tasked with tracking all staff accidents and ensuring that they were dealt with in a timely manner. Stewart found himself constantly chasing people and paperwork at multiple buildings which made it difficult to organize and finalize tasks.
“It was extremely difficult to get things done in an efficient time period and according to state mandates,” said Stewart. “I was constantly shuffling folders and tracking down staff trying to get them to sign up for training or sign off on required documents like district policies, as well as making sure we had the appropriate reports filed for staff accidents.”
When Vandalia-Butler City Schools implemented PublicSchoolWORKS’ EmployeeSafe Suite, all of their staff training was handled automatically through PublicSchoolWORKS’ online management tools. Even when employees are away at a conference or involved in other day-to-day responsibilities, the system auto-notifies them to ensure that staff are meeting training deadlines. In addition, the Employee Accident Management System auto-notifies the correct administrators and the system tracks reports to completion.
“Since the system is managing each step of our staff training, as administrators we can focus on the day-to-day responsibilities and are alerted only when we need to get involved. This system ensures that our people are completing safety training in a timely fashion. It also eliminates paper tracking which is not only expensive, but also very time consuming,”said Stewart. “Furthermore, the data PublicSchoolWORKS provides for us on our staff accidents has allowed us to pinpoint where incidents are occurring and intervene before future incidents occur.”
“All activities within the EmployeeSafe Suite are managed without human intervention through email notifications when an action such as training needs to take place or when a staff member has been injured,” said Stewart.
- The system has automated the district’s yearly policy renewal process for its 450 employees.
- Employees test on policies to ensure they comprehend the policy leading to less policy infringements.
- Online training frees up professional development days to focus on student achievement.
- Reporting tools allow a district to see trends in staff accidents such as when and where they are occurring.
Since moving to PublicSchoolWORKS, Vandalia-Butler City Schools’ staff has been complimentary of the online nature of the program and its flexibility in allowing educators to take training at the time that best fits their schedule. In addition, they appreciate the quick response to employee accidents. The EmployeeSafe’s online capabilities have dramatically reduced the amount of paper which has eliminated the need for storage space, saving Vandalia-Butler City Schools in costs associated with storing and retrieving documents. In addition, the district has seen reductions in workers’ compensation costs and those costs continue to remain low.
“The implementation of this program has been very well received by our staff and administration — they love it,” Stewart said. “We use it to its full capacity, 24/7 every day.”