NCSS closer to state approval of safety plan

COVINGTON - The Newton County School System is one step closer to having official state approval for its school safety and security plans.

In mid-December, the Associated Press reported that the Newton County School System was one of the 32 Georgia school districts that did not have state approval for its school security plans, which lists procedures for schools and the school district as a whole to follow in the event of an emergency or disaster.

Since 1999, state law has required local school systems to submit their plans to the state Department of Education to be forwarded to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency for review.

Although many other school districts across the state blamed county personnel and budget issues for not turning their plans into the state, NCSS officials said in December and maintain today that they were in compliance with the law and that GEMA had delayed in the final approval of those plans because of personnel changes.

"We work with our schools to develop plans, and we submit them to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency every year," said Sherri Viniard, director of Public Relations at NCSS, in December.

At the Newton County Board of Education's monthly work session earlier this month, Deborah Robertson, associate superintendent for administration at NCSS, reported to the Newton County Board of Education that GEMA officials now have given the school system verbal approval on their school and district safety plans and guidelines.

"They are sending official notification for each of the schools by the end of January," she said.

She said for the past six years, NCSS officials have submitted these documents to GEMA, as well as the Newton County Emergency Management Agency and local fire and law enforcement agencies, each year.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.