Simplified: The Sioux Falls School District created a new position this year – a safety and security coordinator. It's a full-time role aimed at helping support existing safety measures in the growing district. Here's a look at how the new job fits into the bigger picture.

Why it matters

  • The position has been on Superintendent Jane Stavem's mind for some time, she said, but one of the things that cemented her decision to act now was the recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that left 21 dead.
  • The new role comes as the district also adds some new safety measures to make sure students and teachers have what they need – including ways to feel connected and supported in the school.
  • Stavem also stressed that the new coordinator wasn't added because the district saw a gap in security. Rather, she said as the district grows, it needs more resources, and Safety and Security Coordinator Dave Osterquist will play a big role in helping walk the line between a safe school and a welcoming one.
"Schools were never designed to be prisons," Stavem said.

What security measures are already in place?

The district has developed a "seven pillars of safety" plan. This includes:

  • Practice drills for students related to fires, tornadoes, lockdowns and more.
  • The physical design of buildings – things like secure entrances, security cameras (things all SFSD schools have – in fact, each high school has an average of 70 security cameras, Assistant Superintendent Jamie Nold told school board members Monday).
  • Secure technology like a radio channel that allows schools to communicate directly with first responders if needed, as well as a system to notify building principals if an exterior door is left open.

Tell me more about the new safety and security coordinator.

Osterquist has been in his role for less than a month.

  • But he's been with the district longer, most recently at Axtell Park. He's also a former police officer, Stavem said.

Osterquist was unable to comment on this story because he got sick, but we'll catch up with him again once he's been in his role awhile longer.

What other new measures will be added?

Osterquist's position is a big one.

  • As a full-time role, he'll be able to help administrators – including the part-time District Risk Manager Bob Bray – with problem solving and supporting existing security measures.

The additional new security measures are largely focused on ensuring students have ways to feel connected to their school. These include:

  • A new school psychologist,
  • Additional social workers,
  • And enhanced counseling programs in elementary schools.
"The safety of our schools is not one person's responsibility, but everybody’s," Board Member Carly Reiter said Monday. "It comes down to all of us as individuals investing in that and making sure that we’re taking care of each other."

The district is also adding new measures to help teachers feel more prepared for any situation that may arise. These include:

  • A classroom safety checklist with items that should be available in each room (or close by), Nold said,
  • A staff expectation checklist,
  • And an overall evaluation of each school's safety protocols.

What happens next?

School starts Thursday.