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WESTMINSTER — A security consultant for the Vermont Agency of Education started a safety audit and threat assessment this week of the schools in the Windham Northeast Supervisory Union.

Superintendent Andy Haas said that Rob Evans, a retired Vermont State Police officer, had visited Bellows Falls Union High School on Tuesday and would be visiting the five other schools in the district.

Evans works for the state’s school safety consultant, Margolis Healy. According to its website, Margolis Healy started working for the state Agency of Education in April 2019 on an 18-month project to assess school safety, planning and training, including training exercises.

Evans is a retired Vermont State Police captain, and former Army Ranger, and is Margolis Healy’s director of K-12 services, according to the company’s website.

Haas told members of the BFUHS board Monday evening that he had requested the audit from the state a while ago.

Gun violence at schools across the country has brought the issue of school safety to the forefront in Vermont. Evans works closely with the Vermont Department of Public Safety on school safety issues, and is the liaison between the two state agencies working on these issues, according to the agency’s website.

In Texas on May 24, an 18-year-old gunman shot and killed 17 students at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, as well as killing two teachers. According to news reports, there have been 27 shootings at American schools in 2022.

Haas said Evans had already found some obvious problem areas at two schools, and one of the first things he questioned was whether all teachers knew how to use the public address system in the event of an emergency.

Evans was slated to visit the high school the next day, along with Central Elementary School in Bellows Falls.

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He noted that Evans discovered the schools he visited on Monday did not have the same camera and locking systems, or radio systems, which could lead to confusion.

Haas said the audit would address possible threats, as well as a security audit. The safety audit, which would include possible improvements and changes, would be submitted to the School Board, Haas said. He said the schools submitted their building procedures in advance for Evans to review.

The superintendent said that Evans was asking “really, really detailed questions” about current safety procedures and systems.

“It’s the world we live in,” said Chairwoman Molly Banik of Westminster, who said she wanted the community to know that the School Board was addressing the issue.

The state had established a school safety center in 2016, with the two state agencies working jointly on the issue.

Haas said Evans believes that the state will be mandating several safety requirements later this year, and Evans suggested that the school district start setting aside surplus funds to pay for what will be required.

He said the schools would be setting up a meeting with the Westminster Fire Department to go over safety protocols.

Some school board members questioned a recent bill for $8,000 for security, but Haas said he didn’t know what that was for. The Windham County Sheriff’s Department recently billed the district for $1,166 to provide security at the BFUHS graduation last month. The sheriff’s department also provides security at school sporting events.

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com.