District Administration July 2018 - 11

sands of children could perish there.
I want kids to have current books
every day, I want them to have wellpaid teachers, I want them to have all
those things, but I also know that if
we think about long-term health and
vitality and justice and equity, building
safety has to be part of the plan.
In the FEMA guidebook it says, "Perhaps because children are required
to attend school by law, the general
public often perceives school buildings as possessing good resistance to
natural hazards." How can the public
respond if they don't know there is a
problem?
That's absolutely right. One of my coauthors said, "You realize that there are
really only two major mass-assembly
settings that we require by law that
people show up to on any given day-a
courthouse or jail, and a school." If we
legally require children to attend school,
then we should be held accountable for
keeping them safe there.
How do we begin to change this
perception?
All it takes is one champion or one advocate who recognizes that their schools
can be unsafe.
One of my mitigation heroes is Arrietta Chako, a resilience expert from
California. She recognized that her
child was attending an unreinforced
masonry school, and worked tirelessly
to do everything she could to call attention to that and help make the schools
in her district safer.
Sometimes school leaders become
champions for this. After Joplin High
School was destroyed by a tornado in
2011, the school leaders did all kinds
of creative things in rebuilding the high
school. For example, we know that it
can be very traumatic to move children
with autism in such a stressful enviwww.DistrictAdministration.com

If we legally require children to attend school,
then we should be held accountable for
keeping them safe there.
ronment. So, in Joplin, they put the
tornado shelter in that special education
classroom. That way the children with
disabilities don't have to move in the
case of a tornado warning-everyone
else comes to that room.
I'm all about institutional change,
and I think that many times it really
does take top-down regulation, but I
also recognize that oftentimes systemic
change is rooted in the grassroots level
and the local level. So I think it's both,
and not an either-or situation.
If the Oklahoma public realized that
their building requirement had been
altered, would there be an uprising? I
don't know. We're living in a historical
moment right now where the narrative
is, "Get the government out of my life.
I don't want any more regulations."
Yet I think it's only going to be with
more institutional requirements that we
can ensure school buildings are built up
to standard.
Your article and the FEMA guide are
strong calls to action. How can district leaders and administrators get
involved?
The guidebook is full of resources. We
had school leaders as part of our expert
review panel, and they pushed us to answer that question.
They'd say, "You're making these
recommendations, but the first thing a
district administrator is going to ask is,
'How am I going to pay for this?' "

So to answer your question, I think
some things that are really important
are, one, that the guidebook itself is full
of low- or no-cost actionable recommendations. Number Two, it also recognizes that making schools safe is not
something that will happen overnight.
Planning takes time, preparedness takes
time, and making a school facility safe
takes time and money-especially if it
requires a retrofit or a rebuild.
FEMA has a host of hazard mitigation grant programs that many school
leaders don't know they can apply for.
They could get funding before a disaster or, if their school is struck low by a
disaster, they can get funds afterward if
they have a hazard mitigation plan.
There is also advice on some of the
most immediate and incremental-but
still very important-steps that you can
take to begin assessing and then acting
on your risk.
Once you've done the risk assessment, you can begin creating coalitions,
because oftentimes the money is not all
going to come from the federal or state
government or via a local bond issue.
There's going to have to be awarenessraising. The guidebook is good for
taking that practical approach because
district administrators were involved in
the process from the start and made it a
more usable document. DA
Tim Goral is senior editor.
July 2018 11


http://www.DistrictAdministration.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration July 2018

District Administration July 2018 - 1
District Administration July 2018 - Cover1
District Administration July 2018 - Cover2
District Administration July 2018 - 1
District Administration July 2018 - 2
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District Administration July 2018 - Cover3
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