High-Quality Emergency Operations Planning (EOP)
3.3 Resource Management
The previous section of this toolkit discussed the integration of existing policies and procedures into the district’s EOP. Among those policies and procedures discussed were those related to contractual services and the use of district equipment and assets. When an emergency occurs, students, staff, parents, and community partners have expectations of schools - not only to keep people safe, but also to be a good neighbor and community partner. While the district’s primary educational missions and responsibilities remain a priority, school officials must ensure that the decisions they make and agreements they create do not compromise the safety and well-being of the district, its students, staff, and resources.
Schools are legally considered to be local government entities and are expected to support requests for mutual aid. Furthermore, the Texas Education Agency (TEA), as part of the State Emergency Management Council, issued recommendations that schools are required by state law to respond to requests for resources during a time of declared disaster.
School districts may both need and provide assistance during an emergency. School officials should recognize that agreements to share and manage resources are not needed for everything. A school district can supplement its emergency support network and existing resources through formal and informal agreements with various partners.
It is important for the school district to cultivate strong partnerships through a process of identifying key partners and formalizing agreements and assumptions. This ensures the ability of partners to work together effectively and to manage expectations. Mutual Aid Agreements are legal documents, authorized by the lead authority of each entity. Memorandums of Understanding and other agreements can be as formal or informal as the relationship between the cooperating organizations or entities allows. Existing district contracts, as well as those instituted under emergency conditions, may include provisions for equipment, supplies, specialized services and/or personnel.
Supplementing District Emergency Operations with Contracts and Agreements
Texas Unified School Safety and Security Standard 4.2 supports the legislative mandates of TEC 37.108 and indicates that a district should adopt and implement policies, plans, or procedures for resource requests and management during and after an incident. It is pertinent to note that all agreements and contracts must be entered into by authorized officials and should be in writing. Emergency conditions do not negate the responsibility of staff members and contractor to follow appropriate procedures.
Existing district contracts, as well as those instituted under emergency conditions, may include provisions for equipment, supplies, specialized services, or personnel. Mutual aid agreements are legal documents, authorized by the lead authority of each participating entity, that commit those entities to a mutually beneficial and cooperative agreement based on the principles of contract law for the purposes of supporting the protection of lives and property. The concept of a mutual aid agreement is that a future reciprocal exchange of roughly comparable value will be made if and when required.
For more information on supplementing district emergency operations with contracts and agreements, refer to the video below:
Video | 7:27
Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) may be formal or informal to the extent in which the cooperating organizations or entities allow. This type of agreement typically defines the responsibilities of each party, provides the scope and authority of the agreement, clarifies the terms and timelines of the agreement, and outlines compliance issues. Cooperative work agreements are commonly the least formal of MOUs enacted by school districts.
To learn more about the importance of formal and informal agreements and how to establish these agreements to support your school district’s emergency operations, please refer to the Texas School Safety Center’s Safety and Security Agreements Toolkit.
Addressing Resource Management Issues within the Planning Team
Traditionally, districts share resources congenially and easily – often with a handshake – with community partners. However, when an incident occurs, those informal relations could be problematic without formal agreements that address each partner’s capabilities. Local or state officials often seek to supplement their emergency operations by utilizing school resources. This has been continually evidenced through the targeting of school facilities to support mass care, feeding, and sheltering operations following large-scale disasters. To address the logistical (resource-based) issues that may arise, it is important to include the appropriate persons on the planning team. These individuals include:
- Human resource management (for addressing regular pay/overtime issues and itemized benefits calculations)
- Operations and energy management (to provide insight into existing capabilities and data on costs for additional utilities and related services)
- Purchasing, warehouse, and transportation personnel (for information about non-district use of equipment and supplies including but not limited to gasoline, mechanical and structural repair, and campus educational consumables)
- Food service personnel (for information on food provision during extended sheltering of students)
- Senior officials from internal and external resource partners (for discussion of emergency protective measures implemented in the interest of public safety, mitigation, or infrastructure protections)
- District facility and risk managers (for estimates of loss and/or damage including extended costs for recovery from devastating damage to district buildings and properties)
- School finance officials (for information about administrative costs and controls necessary to manage the expenditure of funds, provision of resources, and justification of emergency expenditures)
- Educators (for ensuring that graduation requirements and minimum instructional standards continue to be met or exceeded if classes are cancelled due to the impact of an emergency)
Requesting Resources During Emergencies and Disasters
During the initial stages of an emergency, the need for resources outweighs the availability of resources to the district. As time progresses, the district becomes able to meet its need for resources or may even become overwhelmed with the number of resources available to assist. Districts can utilize their EOP and supporting contracts and agreements to assist in the management of resources during emergencies.
When existing resources and those available through mutual aid agreements and memorandums of understanding have been expended or utilized, yet there are remaining resource needs to be met, the district must then reach out to the city or county and request assistance. Often, the city or county may be affected by the incident and be rendered unable to provide immediate assistance in the form of resources. When this occurs, the city or county will request assistance from the Texas Division of Emergency Management’s Disaster District Committee (DDC).
Occasionally, the DDC’s district coordinator, or field representative, will contact the district directly to determine if there are any unmet needs. While such needs may be communicated directly with the district coordinator, it is imperative that they also be communicated with city and county emergency management. Failure to do so can result in duplication of efforts and delays in the arrival of much-needed resources to support district operations.
Federal directives, HSPD-5 and PPD-8, as discussed in Section 1.1 of this toolkit, require the use of the Incident Command System (ICS) when managing emergencies and disasters. ICS, as a component of the greater National Incident Management System, is constructed upon best practices from government, business, and emergency response to enable effective, efficient, and timely management of incidents of all types and sizes.
The requirement for use of the ICS also requires that resource management activities be aligned with the principles and practices defined by the National Incident Management System (NIMS). As such, an ICS Form 213 Resource Request should be utilized when requesting resources from the city, county, or state. ICS and adherence to NIMS will be discussed in more detail in Section 4.3.
The standard form used for requesting resources is the ICS Form 213-RR. However, most cities and counties both recognize and use the ICS-213 General Message Form for requesting resources. Both forms are provided below. The planning team should discuss which form should be used with local emergency management officials. Once a determination is made, the appropriate form may be included as a job-aid within the district’s EOP.
Addressing Cost Recovery and Record Keeping Within the EOP
It is important that the district track all costs associated with emergency response and recovery, including costs associated with agreements and contracts. This can have a bearing upon insurance claims as well as possible reimbursement or restitution pursuant to an emergency declaration or existing agreement.
Financial tracking should include, but not be limited to:
- Personnel (regular/overtime) with benefit calculations itemized
- Costs for additional utilities and related services
- Equipment use
- Shelter provisions, including food
- Emergency protective measures implemented in the interest of public safety, loss mitigation or infrastructure protections
- Loss and/or damage
- Administrative costs
Make every effort to preserve records and documentation in accordance with district record retention and Freedom of Information standards. This should include copies of all agreements, contracts and plan references. Other reports and/or documentation may be required for major events and will include items associated with local, state and federal reimbursement requirements and insurance company documents. Any documents related to costs, that possibly establish responsibility and/or seek outside reimbursement should be preserved until such a time as their lack of value becomes fully apparent.
An emergency of any kind requires a base level of documentation, including:
- Incident reports
- Situation reports
- Safety accountability
- Damage assessment
- Assistance requests
- Resource use
- Timekeeping and related notes
- Any other district paperwork and forms generated as part of the event