PSRI School bus Logo- Shortened
Advancing the discipline of risk management in public education.
In This Issue
School Pools in CA
Bullying Epidemic Costs
Emergency Planning
Nurse Triage
Training Table
ASBO Calendar
PSRI Board Meeting
AGRIP Leaders
Leaders Ask Questions
Article Archives; FY11
Quick Links
SchoolRisk News 
Join Our Mailing List
Corporate Partners 


Genesis Underwriting Mgt.


Company Nurse

Target Safety

Norman Peterson & Assoc.

Selective Insurance


Core Management Resources Group

Alternative Service Concepts

School Bus Safety Company

Pittman & Company

MicroAssist, Inc.

 Bickmore Risk Services

York Risk Services Group

DuPont Training Solutions powered by Coastal
to learn more about the corporate partner
please visit

 School Risk Groups
Florida School Boards Insurance Trust
Minnesota School Boards Insurance Trust
New York Schools Insurance Reciprocal
Schools of Ohio Risk Sharing Authority
Pennsylvania School Boards Association Insurance Trust

Six other school risk groups have joined these founders.
 School Districts

City of Atlanta, GA
City of Chicago, IL
Clark County, NV

City of Cleveland, OH 

Dekalb County, GA
Fairfax County, VA

 Francis Howell, MO
Fulton County, GA
Miami-Dade, FL
Rockdale County,GA
San Francisco USD, CA

Wake County, NC 

Other districts that are direct or associate members now number more than 2,300.

To find out how to join, click here!

School leaders who are members can search the directory and find districts with similar risk management interests

f you are a member of PSRI,
remember to use the Institute's

 for access to top risk management professionals. Reports are compiled, distributed and archived to save time and money.

September    2010                                                  Issue 19                

Risk management is... a vital business process that inspires confidence and builds resiliency.
140 + School Risk Leaders Go Extra Mile

The 28th Annual Fall Conference of the California Association of Joint Powers Authorities (CAJPA) was held Sept. 7-10.  More than 140 representatives from 26 California school risk groups were registered along with a representatives of a school risk group in the state of Washington. This yearly pilgrimage allows  risk group board members and key staff members to come together to share, learn and keep pace with risk issues that confront their member school districts.  

Donna Abersman, COO, Alliance of Schools for Cooperative Insurance Purchasing (ASCIP) served on the conference planning committee and moderated Harassment: Is Your Agency Protected, which featured, Robin Flint, Risk Services Consultant, ASCIP. 

Debra Russell,  WC Claims Manager, Schools Insurance Authority (SIA), moderated a presentation on Workers' Comp: Thinking Outside the Box. 

Martin Brady, Executive Director, SIA, was a panel speaker for Tip Toe Through the Tulips: Discussion Regarding Roles and Responsibilities of JPAs and Their Members. 

Bobbie Albanese, consultant, ASCIP,presented  Special Education Liabilities.  John Vinke, Associate Supt, Lawndale ES, moderated the session.   

Marlon Robbins, Risk Manager, Elk Grove USD, was a panel presenter with three attorneys for ADAA - Did I Stutter and he also moderated another session. 

Guy Schuelke, Risk Manager, Riverside Schools Insurance Authority(RSIG), was a panel speaker for Leveraging Integrated Technology to Improve Your Program. 

Emily Kephart, Prevention Services Manager, North Bay Schools Insurance Authority (NBSIG),  moderated How to Have Joy, More Results and Less Stress in the Workplace.  

Jennifer McCain, Loss Control Specialist, Elk Grove USD, teamed with Marlon Robbins to present  H1N1: How Technology Saved Us.

Bullying Risks Treated by "Inside-Out" Approach

Rick Phillips is devoted to protecting children and has been using his experience and professional education to help districts stop the threat of bullying.  He is the Executive Director for Community Matters, a nonprofit organization based in Santa Rosa, CA.   The Safe Schools Ambassadors program created by Community Matters equips 4th-12th grade student leaders with the skills to speak up and intervene on behalf of their peers.    

Mr. Phillips spoke to the Institute Board of Directors on Sept 8 about recent efforts across the country to address what some are calling a new epidemic of bullying.  He provided a School Climate Loss and Cost Calculator that can be used by districts to estimate the total financial impact of bullying, violence and vandalism.    One example illustrated the impact for a district with 1,000 students where costs added up to more than $2.3 million. 

Safe School Ambassadors, published in 2008, describes the  research, philosophy and program elements that lead to "safer schools from the inside out." The program was also spotlighted in an article published by the California School Boards Association in its spring 2009 magazine.  Over 850 schools in 30 states and two Canadian provinces have introduced Safe School Ambassadors.  

A short essay by Mr. Phillips appears in Risk Central, the Institute's interactive knowledge center, and additional information can be found at

Taking Command of Your Emergency Management Program

Daily headlines reinforce the need for schools to be increasingly concerned about their emergency plans. Being a "safe and caring" school is not just part of a mission statement, but is part of today's regulatory environment. Now more than ever, schools need to be prepared for any crisis they may face.

A comprehensive emergency program requires consistent reinforcement and strengthening. School plans must also be compliant with regulatory requirements and standards. Both of these statements pose challenges for schools, as they require time and subject-matter expertise.

Like many school districts, Elk Grove Unified School District, (CA) faced those realities when they addressed their emergency plan. "During an assessment of our emergency plans, we found many of our schools experienced challenges. Most identified challenges stemming from a lack of time to spend on planning and training, and lack of expertise in the area of emergency planning," commented Jennifer McCain, Elk Grove's Loss Prevention Specialist and REMS grant administrator.

Move Forward With A Software Solution

To address the challenges,  Elk Grove and other districts have several options. "We looked into every conceivable option; from designing a custom program ourselves to hybrid programs and explored numerous consulting companies and programs, " said McCain.

There are now software programs available to help schools address these requirements.  Here are some key points to look for in a software solution.

The program should:

  • Use NFPA 1600, a NIMS requirement, as its framework and incorporate the Incident Command System.
  • Incorporate central support and allow emergency management agencies, such as police and fire, 24-7 access to current information.
  • Address the need for staff training, both initial and ongoing training.
  • Be web-based and data-driven. This provides significant advantages over word processor or paper based plans, and turns the plans into a living program that can be easily managed and shared.
  • Bridge all the elements needed for a comprehensive plan and bring it into one program. This would include core data about each site, staff information, pre-incident support plans for administration, roles assignments, online training, protocols, drills and exercises, compliance reporting and an extremely powerful mapping tool.
  • Allow schools to create emergency maps that plot all the information needed for their emergency program. A map tool should incorporate floor plans, digital imagery, video camera linkages, hazardous materials locations, utility shut offs, evacuation routes, shelter-in-place and lock-down zones.
  • Enable schools to keep their plans current and compliant by easily addressing items that are constantly changing, such as staff changes, building modifications and emergency contact information.

Elk Grove did extensive research to create a exhaustive list of what they needed in a software solution to address their needs.  After considerable deliberation, Elk Grove made the decision to use the Hour-Zero School Emergency Program. "Hour-Zero was the only company that offered a proven, comprehensive system specifically designed for K-12 schools that met all our needs. Their program exceeds the regulatory standards and integrates industry best practices. And it was extremely affordable."  

With proper planning and prudent deployment of technology the challenges facing schools regarding their emergency plans can be overcome. It does take commitment, but a properly built and managed emergency program will carry a school through some of the toughest situations it may ever face. 

Many thanks to Donna Gingera, CEO,  Hour-Zero and Jennifer McCain, Elk Grove Unified School District for assistance with this article.  For information on the Hour-Zero School Emergency Program visit their website or call toll free 1-866-926-0999.

Nurse Triage Improves Employee Injury Treatment 

School risk groups in California were among the first to employ nurse triage strategies and demonstrate the savings of this process innovation. Treatment outcomes improved for injured school employees when trained occupational nurses were called immediately after a work-related incident.   Triage service integrates with claims management routines through special software and telephone protocols.  Several studies have shown that employees welcome triage nursing care, tend to look more favorably toward their employers and avoid costly delays or unnecessary trips to the ER.  Lag time in filing first reports of injury can be virtually eliminated. 


Dennis Chandler of Company Nurse will be a featured presenter for a session about nurse triage services on October 18 during the Association of Governmental Risk Pools Fall Conference.

Training Table Progress Reported
"Where can we find an independent inventory of online and video training programs that are appropriate for school districts?" 
This was the original question that led the Institute to begin a  national survey of 16 leading school risk groups and nearly a dozen commercial sources of training. 

The Training Table is currently set up with seven main topical areas.  The number of subjects listed so far in each area appears in parenthesis.
  • Bus Driver Safety Training (32)
  • Health (5)
  • Human Resources (19)
  • Employee & Student Safety (53)
  • Risk Management (7)
  • Transportation Administration (5)
  • Special Education Liability (3)
The inventory is beginning to take shape and shows how the offerings of several commercial providers compare.   So far, two risk groups have emerged as having the most complete in-house offerings. Several others are contracting with a commercial provider.  

The next version of the table will have an expanded inventory and several additional topical areas. (e.g. Nurse Safety, Food Safety)  The inventory can be customized to add other risk groups and providers on request.  Details of course offerings are also being compiled. 

For more information and preliminary versions of the table, please contact the Executive Director. 

ASBO Annual Conference Introduced "Level 6" Risk Communication
The ASBO International Centennial Conference held in Orlando, September 20-24 provided attendees with a variety of learning opportunities related to risk management. 

There was a double session on The Basics of Risk Communication, among the 30+ sessions with a connection to the risk management process.  Leonard Greenberger of the Potomac Communications Group explained how to deliver a "Level 6" response to a critical question, the vital element of good storytelling and ways that business officials can be more effective in delivering presentations to persuade, educate and inform others about perceived and actual risk.    The second session involved role play and gave attendees a chance to try out their skills in communicating when "concern is high and trust is low."

Further reports and insights from the ASBO Conference will be included in the next edition of this newsletter. 
Public School Risk Institue  Board Meeting 
The PSRI Board of Directors convened September 8 at South Lake Tahoe (site of the CAJPA Conference) for their annual review meeting.    Roy Jacobs was appointed to serve as a director, thus filling the one vacant position.     Mr. Jacobs is the Assistant Executive Director of Pennsylvania School Boards Association and in that capacity he directs the PSBA Insurance Trust, Claims Service, Ltd., and School Boards Insurance Company of PA.

The Executive Director was asked to organize a follow up meeting to discuss the FY3 Outlook and Seven Vital Objectives that were proposed for the Institute.

Additional highlights of the board meeting and other issues pending before the board will be reported in the next edition.
School Risk Group Leaders  Serve on AGRIP  Committees
The Association of Governmental Risk Pools (AGRIP)  tapped  five individuals from school controlled risk groups to serve on various committees. In the previous edition of this newsletter, one person, Steve Fast, was overlooked.  Mr. Fast, who serves as Claims Manager for Colorado School Districts Self-Insurance Pool, is a member of the Acknowledge and Awards Study Committee.  Four other school risk group leaders were previously mentioned as members of this committee.  This committee has been charged with reporting on the "merits and value of whether AGRIP should establish a formal on-going program to recognize outstanding achievement or service which contributes to furthering best interests and/or practices of the public entity and pooling benefits sector."
Risk Leaders Ask Probing Questions
Choosing questions carefully for discussion is a way that risk leaders stimulate risk awareness and help provide insight on important topics.   In the previous edition of this newsletter, reference was made to a series of 20 questions developed by an accounting professionals association to guide efforts toward optimal risk transfer, transparency in risk assumption and monitoring the organizational risk culture.  Here is a sample of the questions:
  • How do we integrate risk management with the district's strategic direction and plan?
  • Are we taking the right amount of risk?
  • How do we ensure that the district is performing according to its plans and within appropriate risk tolerance limits?
  • Do people in our organization have a common understanding of the term "risk"?
  • What information about the risks facing the organization does the Board get to help it fulfill its stewardship and governance responsibilities?
  • How do we take advantage of the organizational learning that results from the risk management program and activities?
  • How does the Board help establish the tone at the top that reinforces the district's values and promotes a risk aware culture?
Newspaper and magazine stories often provide current data and clues to future risks.  Here are some examples of questions that might arise based on recent headlines.


Steel prices:  Is the cost of our next school building going to be affected by Chinese energy saving objectives and the global market in ship building?


Superman for Reform:  Will a new documentary film be a driving force that leads to parental push back against school employee unions? 


Salmon  Science: Are genetically modified fish headed to school cafeteria menus? Why do some groups feel that safety is being compromised?


Scholastic Licensing Litigation:  Will challenges by universities of school mascot and logo use become rampant?  What is a reasonable settlement for infringement by a school?


Answers to these and hundreds of other questions are most likely to come through dialogue and group conversations among superintendents and cabinet leaders, CFOs, risk managers, pool leaders and risk professionals.
 Finding  Newsletters and Other Links
To look back and check past issues of this newsletter, go to the homepage of the Public School Risk Institute, open Resources, then Helpful Links and scroll down to School Risk News, or simply click here and scroll down to School Risk News.
Using Helpful Links at www.schoolrisk org is an easy way to find excellent resources about a wide range of subjects.   If you need assistance, please call or  use the Contact Us feature to send a request.
Public School Risk Institute
Please call or send us a note with your comments and suggestions about this newsletter and any projects you would like to see us undertake. We also want to receive school contact names, contacts with organizations you believe may want to be involved, and material for the new website resources. We hope you find the Institute's newly updated website useful.  Please visit regularly and let us know how we can support your efforts to advance risk management.  Your input and feedback is greatly desired and appreciated.

Lee Gaby, Executive Director 
Public School Risk Institute
NEW Phone  (706) 715-3381 Ext. 701