School safety and security have been making headlines in metro area newspapers in recent weeks. We’d like to update you on some recent steps taken in Osseo Area Schools to support safe and healthy work and learning environments, which are a key component of effective schools.

The school board has approved a preliminary budget for next school year that includes an additional investment of more than $1 million for:

  • More teachers for strategic class size reduction in grades K-3;
  • More social workers to support students’ mental health needs; and
  • More educational support professionals to provide supervision for lunch and recess.

Next year’s budget also prioritizes items that support our work to promote safe learning and work environments:

  • Purchase of higher quality digital security cameras and replacement of two-way radios;
  • Purchase of radio repeaters that will help police and fire officials communicate more effectively within three of our larger buildings in Brooklyn Park during emergencies. (Our schools in Maple Grove do not have a similar need.)

In collaboration with the City of Maple Grove, our district has also contracted an additional police resource officer to serve the Osseo and Maple Grove schools, which brings the current districtwide total of police resource officers to nine. The new resource officer has already begun work in our schools. Further, we have committed support for another police resource officer to the City of Brooklyn Park when they are able to add an additional officer, which would bring the districtwide total to 10 police resource officers (five each from Brooklyn Park and Maple Grove).

Underlying the budget-related items is the most critical element of all—the work our staff do every single day to build relationships with students, teach them positive behaviors, and engage them in learning.

The results of our staff’s good work are evidenced by positive feedback we get directly from parents/guardians, students and staff. We know because we conduct regular surveys that ask specific questions related to safety and belonging.

Professional surveys conducted during the 2015-2016 school year showed that:

  • 98% of parents of Osseo Area Schools students said their child’s school provides a safe learning environment (Source: Morris Leatherman Associates)
  • Nearly three-fourths (74%) of students in grades 3-12 said they feel like they belong at school (Source: Osseo Area Schools Student Stakeholder Survey)
  • Nearly three-fourths (74%) of our employees reported feeling safe in their workplace (Source: Osseo Area Schools Staff Stakeholder Survey)

It's important to note that while we have plenty of positive feedback, we also know that some employees are discouraged and alarmed by the disrespect they experience from students. Superintendent Kate Maguire shares their concern and has expressed her commitment to work collaboratively with the teachers union to address these issues.