OLEAN - Westfield Academy & Central School (WACS) is one of 133 school districts and Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) in New York State to receive the Utica National Insurance Group's "School Safety Excellence Award" for 2014.
The honor, presented annually, recognizes school districts' safety efforts as they work to help keep students, staff and visitors safe. WACS received its award at Utica National's 34th annual school safety seminar at the Premier Banquet Center, Olean, N.Y., one of seven such seminars the company hosts in the state. The company insures more than 300 school districts in upstate New York alone through its insurance program for educational institutions, which is marking its 40th year .
WACS officials accepted a certificate to commemorate the district's safety efforts and a $500 award for use in furthering those efforts from Utica National representatives. Utica National's School Safety Excellence Award Program has three levels - titanium, platinum and gold - in which schools can earn a meritorious distinction by meeting specific criteria to enhance overall safety. Through the program, schools with their own transportation, schools with contract transportation, and BOCES are evaluated. Categories covered include bullying prevention programs, playground safety and other areas, and are measured using specific, quantifiable surveys.
"Safety and health concerns continue to be a priority in our school districts," explained Mark Aquino, regional manager in Utica National's risk management department. "Districts that go 'above and beyond' to provide a safe, healthy and focused culture for learning are to be applauded, and we're pleased to count Westfield Academy & Central School among them."
Mr. Aquino noted that, beyond the recognition itself, an added benefit of following the safety program is the chance to pinpoint specific threats to safety. "The time to address those threats is before a loss happens, which really helps contribute to the safety culture that districts are working toward."