VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Students in Virginia Beach are back to school with a new leader in place.

Dr. Don Robertson is the acting superintendent of Virginia Beach City Public Schools after former Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence took the head job at Loudoun County Public Schools. He says a big focus this year is making sure students are “Future Ready” by growing opportunities for high school students to get out in the field and experience the workplace.

“When you can provide a student an opportunity to work in the field of an area of interest, they’re going to be more engaged in that work, and from that work, they’re going to determine, oh now I know, and now I understand why I really need to master the ability to write persuasively, or I have to be able to read a technical journal,” Robertson said.

Dr. Robertson says he wants to show everyone that Virginia Beach City Public Schools provide a private school education at a world class level, elementary through high school.

Safety is also a big focus for parents, school staff, and administrators. Dr. Robertson says the school system created the Virginia Beach School Safety Task Force. It’s co-chaired by the city’s Chief Operations Officer, the police chief and the emergency manager.

“What they’re doing is looking at all the current infrastructure that exists in VBCPS from a safety standpoint and investigating other possibilities to implement in our schools. We have a really strong safety program right now. We have SROs in all of our secondary schools thanks to our really super strong partnership with the Virginia Beach Police Department.”

Dr. Robertson says the district has an “Office of Security Emergency Management” that is made up of former police or military police. He says they’ve created an armed security program that now has armed security officers in some of the city’s secondary schools, and they are looking at moving those into some of their elementary schools.

He feels confident in the school system’s ability to keep students and staff safe.

“We survey staff and parents and students annually, and over 90% of our parents and students and staff said that the school is a safe and welcoming environment. We take a lot of pride in that.”

As for the superintendent position, Dr. Robertson says the school board will make a decision on the next superintendent in the next 6 to 8 months.

He assures WAVY that after 35 years in the school system, it is a position he would definitely like to have. We will keep you updated on the search and on the big decision when it happens.