October 29, 2018

Streamlining Solutions Through a Massive District

By Ally Jones

Based on the article by Mike Conklin, “Everything’s Bigger in Texas: Maximizing Our Commitment to Safety in a Massive District.” Read the full article on Upshot.

Being a part of a large district that crosses county lines comes with many unique challenges, and Mike Conklin, Director of Safety and Security at Northwest ISD in Texas, has become very familiar with these challenges. Mike stated, “We coordinate and communicate with three county responders and potentially 14 other governmental agency responders, such as law enforcement, the fire department, emergency medical services, and utility and phone companies. That level of complexity often makes things difficult when trying to organize and coordinate emergency response protocols.”

Mike knew that in a district his size, he needed to find a solution that would allow him to streamline safety documentation. He stated, “Updating documents is challenging enough for one school, but in a district with 30 campuses, it can be a nightmare. Our old process was inefficient and required us to update safety plans by district, facility, and then again for each building. This process was slow, difficult to maintain, and could be unreliable.”

A Universal Tool in the Schools

Within a large district, finding a solution that saves time is invaluable. “I love how phenomenally easy it is to schedule, manage, and then run either a daily, monthly, or year-end report with NaviGate Prepared. I can go into the platform and, in a couple of clicks, convert our files to PDF and send it out… Our campus admins now have a centralized dashboard, and they can schedule the year’s 600+ drills right away in one sitting, along with automatic drill reminders. Completing drills becomes a smooth process, saving them time and frustration.”

Northwest ISD has even found ways to utilize the NaviGate Prepared software for daily use. “Our Facilities Department uses the 360-degree maps almost daily. They reference the images in meetings with construction workers when they’re building additions, and when a campus requests something like a new door or classroom upgrade. It’s become not only essential for safety and security, but also a daily tool for our facilities department.”

Looking Towards the Future

Mike Conklin has laid down his future goals to ensure that safety and preparedness are the norm for everyone district-wide. Mike stated, “I’d like to see every teacher, administrator, and building staff member have the app on their phone… The biggest impact is going to be in our communication. Clear, precise communication is important when you’re dealing with a safety event. If you have an app that everyone uses and trusts, then you can push that information out to them. The speed of correct information through an event is vitally important. And with the right tools, it’ll be seamless.”

What are your safety preparedness goals in your schools?

Leave a Reply

15 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
14 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Chad Leggett

I’m very impressed that Mike was able to coordinate all of that information and those people. This level or syncing is hard to do, even in a small district. I imagine all of the Admins in our district would have the same general goal, but it’s hard to get everything together. I loved his statement of “The speed of correct information through an event is vitally important.” In todays world of social media and fake news, that statement is very important.

Charles Hammonds

Using technology is an important part of school safety and can make it more efficient. But after 32 years of emergency service be prepared for a backup plan for communications and other factors in a emegency situation

It is impressive, for the number of campuses in Mike Conklin’s district, that they are able to coordinate everything so well. We have 4 campuses, and sometimes the tasks seem daunting. I will say though, that Navigate Prepared has helped greatly.

Alexander Garey

Wow! I’m impressed with the coordination efforts and no doubt that Navigate’s system was able to help with that. Having the app alone is a huge deal and the ability of everything we are to accomplish just with the app allows for a great effort from all.

I am very impressed with how Northwest ISD is utilizing Navigate and how organized they are. Definitely consider them a go to for information!

Clearly the coordination effort is strong here. This kind of goes to show that if it can be done at such a large scale, then other smaller schools/districts can find success as well. Navigate is helping lead the way in this regard.

Melissa M.

Thanks for sharing the other ways that this team uses NaviGate (i.e. facilities). In the world of public service, you want to maximize your dollars the best way possible, and have multiple uses for a product is a great way to do that!

Greg M

Given the challenges I face in just one small school, I can’t imagine the challenges in such a large district. My immediate goals include school wide understanding of the plan, including the “why” of the various annexes. I also want to ensure that our communications plan works, and is made a part of every drill. Too often drills end with student accountability, we need to carry the drills through. As I said in my military training career “train the way you will fight”.


It’s impressive what Mike was able to do in such a large area. Safety preparedness within our schools is above all communication. Being able to communicate not only within our building but across all the buildings in the District in the event an emergency takes place is huge. Navigate gives us the ability for this communication and also helps streamline the layouts and specific locations within the building that are crucial in the event of an emergency.

Shannon Myers

We need to implement scenario drills and help students become problem solvers. We no longer live in a day and age that planned and routine fire drills are helpful.


Understanding the best way to stay safe. Communicating where the threat is and knowing if we should lockdown or evacuate.

Julie Hermes

In a large district, consistency and clear communication is important.


I believe everyone’s preparedness goal would be the safe evacuation of all people. It is impressive that Mike was able to organize such a massive effort and I hope that if we were to personally were ever to be in a similar situation, we would respond to ensure all students and faculty safety.

Jennifer Eley

Although we are a very small district all on one campus, communication particularly during emergency situations is of utmost importance. I love reading how such a large district is utilizing technology to meet its communication needs when dealing with a safety event.

Jennifer Eley

Student safety is our number one priority. We recently have started situational drills to begin to get students to think critically in an emergency situation. This applies to all drills. The same route may not always be an option, therefore, our goal is to prepare students to make informed decisions with the information they have at that time.