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Honoring Four Years of Innovation

June 05, 2012 Allison Kaminsky and Ron Garza

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“Just as energy is the basis of life itself, and ideas the source of innovation, so is innovation the vital spark of all human change, improvement, and progress” – Theodore Levitt

Each year, Fund members are invited to compete for the highly-coveted Innovation Award, a commendation that recognizes an initiative, product, or program that demonstrates innovation and success in risk management. By 2012, the Fund has been granting the Innovation Award for nine years. Members were honored at the Members’ Conference for best demonstrating cost effectiveness, originality, transferability, and the ability to address needs at the overall member level. Continue reading to see how this and previous year’s winners earned this honor, which included a commemorative plaque and $1,000 honorarium to apply toward continuing risk management efforts.

2012 recipients

To help employees increase their physical activity, address weight loss issues, and promote healthier lifestyles, Atlanta ISD developed a free and fun “Fitness Challenge” competition. Employees from opposing teams participated in eligible cardiovascular-focused exercises for a three-month time period. 

Barbers Hill ISD launched a comprehensive online training and compliance program enabling administrators to customize trainings for school employees, both on a group and individual basis. The program can be used for new personnel, paraprofessionals, and substitutes, offering a variety of courses, including emergency management, health, human resources, information technology, nutrition services, security, special education, and transportation.

Conroe ISD hosts an annual Employee Health Fair allowing employees and their families to obtain no-cost flu vaccinations and biometric screenings, including screening for blood sugar, cholesterol, and Prostate Specific Antigen. Vendors include health and wellness representatives from the community, one of the largest independent doctor groups in the area, as well as three community hospitals. A fitness challenge is also offered in conjunction with the district's health care provider and the Live Healthy America organization.

As a result of the FEMA audit of the college’s 2008 Hurricane Ike recovery projects, Galveston College created a Best Practices Guide to use during a natural disaster. These best practices can be used to ensure organizations retain necessary documentation and take appropriate actions to be prepared for a FEMA audit. The guide prepares employees, students, and the community for the steps required to work effectively with FEMA to maximize recovery efforts and teaches them what to expect from insurance carriers following a natural disaster.

With over 7,500 employees located in 80 sites within a 100 square mile area, Garland ISD recognized a need to enhance internal communication efforts. In response, the district developed creative and humorous ways to catch attention and convey safety messages to employees. Both digital and print fliers styled to look like paparazzi newspapers were created focusing on a different safety message each month. As a result, $100,000 has been saved in injury costs compared to the same time last year.

Harlingen ISD established a 35-person safety committee consisting of representatives from each campus and site. Safety representatives include teachers, school administrators, coaches, and office staff, and are given duties and responsibilities by the Coordinator of Risk Management. Committee members attend bimonthly meetings consisting of different topics that incorporate prevention and awareness, such as preventing slips, trips and falls, lifting procedures, and airborne pathogens. The safety representatives then take this information and present to their staff at faculty meetings. The safety committee has successfully been in place for 10 years.

Harts Bluff ISD implemented the Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students), a program designed to provide a male role model for students, emphasizing the importance of education and providing an extra layer of security for the school. Watch D.O.G.S. arrive for their day and are given a brief overview of the campus, rules to follow, a schedule, and a walkie-talkie. Volunteers participate in activities such as monitoring entrances and perimeters, loading/unloading buses/cars, working with P.E. coaches, helping in the cafeteria at lunch, and working with their student’s teacher in the classroom.

Wild hogs began encroaching on Hawkins ISD school property, causing considerable damage to the band and football practice fields and posing an indirect threat to mowing equipment. Maintenance staff welded a trap gate and constructed a trap pen to contain the wild hogs. Once the hogs were contained, local trappers were called to remove the hogs from school property. To date, 23 hogs have been caught and removed.

Klein ISD developed a Vehicle Accident Review Board (VARB) to assist administration in fair and uniform application of disciplinary procedures for bus drivers and white fleet drivers. The board reviews all vehicle accidents, citations, and incidents with the overall objective of reducing or eliminating repeated accidents by drivers.

The workers' compensation department at San Marcos CISD created a Monthly Safety Newsletter addressing different types of risks. The goal of this initiative was to make all employees conscious of their daily surroundings where expected or unexpected hazards can be present, and how to respond under different circumstances. The newsletter’s monthly titles have included: Electrical; Slips, Trips and Falls; Hazards; Safety Checklists; Tornadoes; Flooding; Fire; Bomb Threat; Building Evacuation; Shelter in Place Lockdown; School Safety Planning; and Dealing with Students / Staff in Crisis.

2011 recipients

Aquilla ISD, in partnership with their local CareFlite, hosted its first CPR Awareness Day.  All high school students were provided basic CPR and AED training. Following the day of training, the same course was offered to parents and community members.

Bandera ISD established the “Report a Bully Tip Line” allowing students, parents, and teachers to report suspicious behavior or possible bullying to a central tip line that is monitored by a central office administrator. Any information received is immediately transmitted to the affected campus or department for consideration and possible action.

Covington ISD installed Child Sleep Monitors on all of their buses and attached strobe lights on the tops of the buses to ensure students were not left behind and that the buses were visible on the town’s winding hill country roads.

Deer Park ISD implemented a modified light-duty Return to Work (RTW) program, resulting in employees returning to work full-duty sooner, reconnecting with their peer group, and reducing the number and cost of WC-related injuries over a multi-year period. Cash outflows have decreased by over $200,000 since 2005-06, resulting in a 33 percent decrease in ultimate final costs of all claims and a 91 percent decrease in current claims costs.

Hallettsville ISD hosted an Employee Health Fair hosting 26 vendors from the Hallettsville community and surrounding communities. One hundred and ten employees were trained in CPR and defibrillation training along with 80 senior students. In addition to the Health Fair, the employees continue to receive staff education on health through brochures and e-mails throughout the year.

Longview ISD held and staffed on-site vaccination clinics at every campus and building in the district, including ten elementary schools, three middle schools, and one high school. H1N1 vaccinations were administered in late January/early February and 2nd doses or those who missed were administered in March.  Additionally, school nurses provided classroom instruction on proper hand-washing and other methods of infection control. 

Lubbock ISD provided a free mass health screening for all employees, including blood pressure, BMI, body fat percentage, and a finger stick for total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, TC/HDL ratio, and triglycerides. Following the screenings, the district wellness coordinator and wellness nurse contacted each person who had elevated values. The findings supported the necessity of this program: undiagnosed hypertension, elevated glucose levels, high cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, and significant weight management issues.

Mesquite ISD developed online safety training seminars for campus personnel that were administered through the district's intranet system. Campus employees can now conveniently sit at their own computers to attend safety training sessions at their leisure instead of interrupting their instructional duties to attend traditional group training. On average the district reaches 950 campus employees per quarter who otherwise would not be exposed to safety training materials.

Pleasant Grove ISD installed a video security camera system in a new intermediate school, a new high school gym, and a new multi-purpose building. The system monitors student activities, vandalism, and burglaries 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Willis ISD started a Safety Performance Semester Program consisting of three Safety Performance Semesters, in which principals and directors compete against each other to motivate their staff to think about safety. The Superintendent has used the program to boost safety and performance recognition during the year instead of just at district meetings held at the beginning and end of each year. 

2010 recipients

Abbott ISD implemented a Red Cross Trainer Program with a goal to have 100 percent of its staff trained in basic CPR and First Aid.  Currently, 26 employees out of a total of 49 staff have been trained.

Aldine ISD produced a training video entitled “Back Intact” that addressed how to properly care for the human back. The video was placed on DVDs and distributed to safety council members and staff.

Center Point ISD partnered with Peterson Regional Medical Center to implement “Wellness is the Weigh,” a program promoting a healthy lifestyle for employees and the community.

Corpus Christi ISD conducted a comprehensive review of voluntary benefits with a new Online Enrollment System to ensure programs, products, and services were cost-effective, competitive, and user-friendly.

Eanes ISD implemented a safety campaign entitled “Be Seen, Be Safe” focusing on the safety of elementary-level bus riders. Under the program, all elementary students were provided with blinking light reflectors to fasten to their backpacks or clothing to ensure student visibility.

Elgin ISD developed Emergency Student/Parent Reunification Kits for use in the instance of a campus evacuation.

Garland ISD initiated a “Reach for the Stars, but Watch your Step" safety campaign, which included a Star Trek themed presentation that focused on the most common hazards that contribute to the majority of injuries to professional personnel: slips, trips, and falls.

Klein ISD embarked on an Emergency Operations Plan Enhancements project where all entry and exit doors were numbered at all 40 campuses and district support buildings. This provided immediate location for Klein ISD Police or emergency/fire response.

Northwest ISD implemented a Human Resource Ambassador Program dedicated to giving paraprofessional staff members the resources they need to respond promptly and courteously to parents and the community.

San Marcos CISD developed Safety Checklists based on duties with the highest rate of workers’ compensation claims to prevent injuries, maintain high employee productivity, and provide safety training.

2009 recipients

Boerne ISD installed a camera system that recorded license plate numbers of cars that were running red lights, and the Boerne Police Department agreed to cite any vehicle caught on camera.

Brady ISD trained their bus drivers using the Spencer Henry Discipline Management module in order to curb referrals of student bus riders.

Education Service Center Region XI developed an Emergency Response Team composed of 10 employees, with each member certified in CPR, AED, and First Aid Training. In an emergency, the team responds  through the use of two-way radios and problem solving.

Falls City ISD implemented a district wide nutritional awareness program that promoted education, good eating habits, and better health for employees, communities, and students.

Galveston College created a disaster recovery plan with an agreement between the college and Progressive Fire & Flood.

Garrison ISD put into action a special safety team called "G-SWAT: Garrison Safety Watch and Awareness Team". G-SWAT is devoted to addressing student issues such as underage drinking and drug use.

Harlingen CISD created a wellness committee consisting of administrators, principals, and coordinators to promote employee health and encourage daily activities.

Mesquite ISD created comprehensive safety audit tools for school campuses, kitchens, and office buildings.

Texarkana ISD developed an online monthly crisis-management plan drill to ensure proper protocols are followed in emergencies.

Winters ISD held a six-week employee wellness challenge that encouraged staff to incorporate a new healthy habit each week and provided a documentation sheet to the staff via email communication. 

For the latest information about this awards program, visit the Fund’s website.

Tagged: "Excellence Awards"