Franklin school staff describe threat simulation training event

Franklin School Board members heard a report at their work session Monday about a threat assessment simulation training attended by three district employees.

Superintendent Eugene Thomas said that he, school board president Sabrina Backer and deputy Ron Harkless had attended a pilot program for simulation training, called the Pennsylvania School Safety Institute, provided by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.

Thomas said the simulation had taken place in a specially dedicated wing of a School Boards Association building, and it used digital screens to create an immersive virtual-reality threat situation experience to which participants then had to respond or try to de-escalate.

“You’re in an atmosphere that felt real and threatening,” he said. “It was probably one of the most surreal and real-life experiences that you could be in, outside of the real thing.”

He added that the training also helped participants learn to collaborate with school resource officers and police.

Backer seconded that the training was “the most realistic training I’ve ever been in,” and that Harkless had also said it was one of the best he had attended.

The program is still in a pilot phase, but Thomas and Backer said it is planned to launch officially on July 1.

In another matter, board member and operations committee chair Andy Boland said, reporting on the operations committee meeting that preceded the work session, that there are “a lot of roofing issues” in the district and that some work is scheduled to be done by Strongland Roofing.

He added that any voting items will come up at the board meeting next week.

In another matter, the panel discussed the possibility of trademarking the Franklin Knight logo and trying to make it more uniform across school materials.

District technology director Carlo Delmo said he had bought the image used for the Honorable Knights program, and that according to the usage agreement it could be used for a variety of things provided the district doesn’t profit off the usage.

The board concluded it would look into making the knight, the font and the color more uniform for Franklin Knights branding.