Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson and Williamson County Schools Deputy Superintendent Jason Golden accepted a certificate from the National Weather Service recognizing the county’s school districts for preparing their campuses for extreme weather. // Photo by Matt Blois
By MATT BLOIS
The county’s two school districts received recognition on Wednesday from the National Weather Service for preparing their campuses for extreme weather.
Williamson County Schools and Franklin Special School District received the recognition because they met a set of storm preparation guidelines established by the National Weather Service. Those guidelines include things like having a main weather contact for each school, a weather radio at all facilities and a good relationship with the National Weather Service.
Michael Fletcher is the Safety and Security Director for Williamson County Schools. He’s tasked with keeping students safe at school, and a big part of his job is preparing for extreme weather. He said it’s hard to build schools that are storm proof, but there are steps that the district can take to improve safety.
“What we can do is be prepared and have as much warning as possible,” he said.
The National Weather Service recognized the work of the Williamson County Emergency Management Agency as an important part of keeping students safe at school. The agency’s director, Mac Purdy, said his organization is in contact with the school districts every day.
The districts and the county work together to develop plans for specific emergencies such as tornadoes or winter storms. But Purdy said it’s important to keep those plans flexible.
“We’re developing plans that work no matter the hazard that we face,” he said. “There’s inevitably something out there that we haven’t thought of.”
He explained that most emergencies either require students to shelter in place or evacuate, and those strategies can be adapted to many different situations.
Fletcher said that having a plan for one disaster can prepare schools for a different situation. If there’s a fire students will need to evacuate the school. But fire drills also prepare students to evacuate if the building becomes unstable or there’s a gas leak.
The two school districts together represent the largest school group in the region to receive the recognition. The StormReady program at the National Weather Service is an effort to educate people about storm safety. There are nearly 2,700 StormReady sites in the United States.