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It’s Time for a Community Conversation on School Safety

I just read a school safety report from the Educator’s School Safety Network (ESSN) which you can access at  The report ranked Wisconsin as one of the top ten “states of concern” based on an analysis of school-based threats and incidents of violence.   While the authors of the study acknowledge that not all violent threats or incidents in schools are reported, the ten “states of concern” accounted for 34% of the threats and incidents tracked in the United States.  Perhaps Wisconsin’s 7th place ranking is what spurred Governor Walker and our state legislators to quickly vote a one hundred million dollar school safety plan into law on March 26, 2018. 

Assembly Bill 843 creates the Office of School Safety within the Department of Justice whose responsibilities will include managing the grant program for school safety, maintaining blueprints and school safety plans for all schools and developing model practices of school safety.  The bill also requires mandatory reporting of threats of school violence and training for all school staff on trauma-informed care.  School districts will also be working in closer conjunction and consultation with local law enforcement. 

So what additional investments should the Tomah Area School District make to improve school safety?  We want to secure funding from the $100 million school safety grant program, yet what do members of our community want to see happen?  Do you agree with the recommendations listed below from a blog post on the ESSN website, entitled Five Ways to Fix Our School Safety Problems?

  1. Stop arguing about gun control and start providing educators with the training they critically need. Let’s start at a place we can all agree: no one should be dying in our schools. It’s time to implement a common sense approach to school safety that is led by our educators.
  2. Stop buying stuff. Let’s spend the flurry of money that will be allocated in the wake of today’s tragedy by investing in people rather than buying stuff. Metal detectors, apps, and fencing won’t stop the next school shooter. Training in violence prevention, threat assessment, and crisis response might.
  3. Train everyone (not just administrators). Training and expertise in preventing and responding to crisis events needs to be de-centralized. Every person in every school – teachers, staff, students, parents – needs to have adequate, appropriate training in what to do when a crisis occurs.
  4. Prepare for all hazards. While active shooter situations are tragic and garner lots of media attention, the truth is that violence and crisis situations occur EVERY DAY in our schools. Planning, preparation, training, and response is required that focuses not just on active shooters (the least likely of events), but on all the other man-made and natural hazards that schools face each day.
  5. More law enforcement is not the answer. In a school crisis, educators ARE the first responders and should be trained as such.  Yet most conversations, decisions, and trainings about school safety are centered on and driven by a law enforcement perspective.

What approach should the Tomah Area School District take to improve school safety?  Is it more training for students, school staff, and parents?  Are teacher’s first responders or first reactors in a school crisis?  Do we need metal detectors, an anonymous threat reporting system which goes directly to the police department, more school resource officers?  Please join representatives from the Tomah School District, the Tomah Police Department, and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department on Tuesday, April 24 in a community conversation on school safety.  The event will take place in the THS cafeteria from 6:30- 8:00 p.m.  We need to hear from you- parents, grandparents, students, school employees, residents, and business leaders- to help us determine our next steps in tackling the issue of school safety.  Our mission of high quality student learning- every child, every day is compromised if our children and teachers are not safe at school.  The time is now for this community conversation on school safety. 

If you have any questions or comments about the information and opinions expressed in this edition of The School Bell, please contact Cindy Zahrte, District Administrator, at or 374-7002.


2018 Timberwolves' Summer PACK
Positive Adventures Creating Knowledge
June 25- August 2, 2018

Session A: June 25-July 12    Session B: July 16-August 2

Class Times: 8:10-9:20 a.m.; 9:22-10:32 a.m.; 10:50-12:00 noon; Lunch; 12:40-1:50 p.m.

 Registration Information

 Registration Dates at LaGrange Elementary School:

 Registration Form
  • Saturday, April 28 from 8:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.
 Getting Ready for 5K Information


  • Saturday, May 5 from 8:00 a.m. until 10:30 a.m.
 First Grade, Here We Come Information 
  •  May 10, May 15, May 17 and May 24 from 3:00 p.m. until 5:30 p.m.
 Summer PACK Courses for Grades 1-8  

If you have questions please call Michelle Clark at 374-7056.

Open Enrollment for 2018-2019 Ends April 30
The open enrollment period for Wisconsin Public School begins Monday, February 5.  The recommended method of applying for open enrollment is through the DPI Website.

The on-line application will be available until 4:00 p.m. on April 30, 2018.  It is recommended that you submit your application as early as possible.  Late applications will not be accepted for any reason.

Tomah Area School District Annual Art Show

  Want to see all the creative products Tomah students have been working on during the school year? The annual TASD Art show will be held in the High School Commons and Cafeteria from 5:30 to 8 on April 27.  Come on down and see a large selection of art works from all grades and mediums.