Creating a safe learning environment doesn't happen without proper planning. To help ensure the safety of your students, faculty, administrators and visitors to your school, we've put together a list of 10 essential steps to help guide you through the process.

1. Establish a security task force. Identify security partners and create a common vision for your school.

2. Prepare and schedule an annual risk assessment. A qualified and experienced security specialist can help you assess your school's safety assets and areas of risk.

3. Conduct a thorough risk assessment. Examine your school's physical characteristics, security technology, and safety and security-related policies. Review crime and discipline data.

4. Identify and prioritize short-term and long-term needs. Based on risk assessment findings, prioritize the measures to be implemented.

5. Determine short-term and long-term budget requirements. Implementing procedural changes and/or crime prevention curriculum may cost little to nothing. Remember, the hidden cost of doing nothing may outweigh your budget challenges.

6. Investigate funding resources. Evidence of a thorough risk assessment can make your school eligible for federal funding.

7. Integrate administrators, teachers, parents, local police and students into your planning process. Share your security plan and related efforts with your community, local police and other schools in your area.

8. Implement strategies for response to identified needs. Clearly defining roles of school personnel in regard to school safety, security and operations can contribute significantly to a successful security program. 

9. Monitor the implementation and evaluate the effectiveness of the plan. Holding "mock" security checks and regular debriefs after an incident occurs allows you to constantly re-evaluate security processes. 

10. Schedule yearly evaluations to check progress and identify new gaps in the plan. Regularly documenting assessments of your security implementation can reduce risk and liability.

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