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A tornado safe room under construction in Moore, Oklahoma.

Tornadoes sweeping through parts of the nation and destroying schools are leading district leaders to create “safe rooms” for increased protection.

In May 2013, Moore, Okla., was hit by a tornado that destroyed two elementary schools and killed seven students. Moore Public Schools is rebuilding the schools with four safe rooms designed to meet Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) criteria to provide protection during tornadoes.

Nearly one in 10 K12 students are sexually abused by teachers, coaches, principals and other personnel, according to the Department of Education. To combat a growing number of abuse cases, a California insurance provider is offering free online training courses to help district staff learn how to report abuse.

North East ISD in San Antonio banned all but clear or mesh backpacks after a  student allegedly brought three loaded guns and a knife to a high school in April.

Recent school stabbings and cases of students caught with weapons have driven some districts to ban traditional cloth backpacks in favor of easily searchable clear or mesh bags.

Diesel-fueled buses are the most common for transporting students in cities, suburbs and rural areas due to good gas mileage and easy fueling.

Alternative fuel, surveillance cameras, maintenance and driver salaries all play a role in how a district manages its transportation—unless, of course, the district decides to outsource and let an outside company make all those decisions.

Michael G. Shoaf is superintendent of Rocky River City School District.

With violent events seemingly on the rise in schools across the country, district leaders must develop fluid and thorough safety plans.

To address the variety of individual circumstances that may accompany these events, fluidity must be coupled with authentic practice and the engagement of stakeholders and experts. Practicing the plan, constantly considering best practices, and giving staff and students flexibility to adjust actions during an emergency are essential for a quality school safety plan.

More states are allowing schools to have armed staff to defend students against active shooters, nearly a year and a half after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Connecticut.

In 2013, 21 states strengthened gun laws to require trigger-locking devices and background checks for private sales, says Laura Cutilletta, senior staff attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. At the same time, the National Rifle Association (NRA) made a public push to allow more security guards or staff members to carry guns in schools, after 40 to 60 hours of firearms training.

Kevin Kinker of K-9 Interventions brings his search dog Anna to Mona Shores Public Schools. Anna can detect drugs, alcohol and guns.

Students in a Michigan district say they feel safer this year thanks to dogs that regularly search schools for weapons and illegal substances, a new survey shows.

In "Reading in the Wild," author and reading expert Donalyn Miller focuses on how to instill lifelong reading habits in students.

Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer’s Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits


In this follow-up to her best-selling book “The Book Whisperer,” author and reading expert Donalyn Miller focuses on how to instill lifelong reading habits in students. Based in part on survey responses from adult and student readers, this book offers strategies on how to develop and encourage the key habits that lead to a lifelong love of reading. Also included are lesson plans and recommended book lists for students.

Christopher J. Librandi is an Connecticut-based attorney who practices business law, including information technology.

The age of textbooks and filing cabinets is coming to an end. Smart phones, tablets and cloud storage are the tools of the day.

Most students probably have their own devices by the time they reach middle school and most school districts use cloud services for record retention and data analysis.

Ocularis Mobile by On-Net Surveillance Systems Inc.
Micro Dome Full HD Network Cameras by Canon
Summit Series 960H Super-Res DVRs by FLIR
M2014-E Network Camera by Axis Communications
FlexiDome Starlight HD 720p Camera by Bosch
IS-IP14K by Sentry360
Plug & Play NVRs by Speco Technologies

School administrators know they need to try to stop violence before it happens. Having the proper surveillance equipment can help district leaders keep a watchful eye over students and prevent the wrong people from entering a building.