NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – More than one month since a 6-year-old allegedly shot a teacher in Newport News, the Virginia House and Senate are working to pay for safety improvements at Richneck Elementary School.
Del. Mike Mullin (D-Newport News) was one of the first lawmakers to respond to the shooting at Richneck.
He told 10 On Your Side some of the elementary classrooms don’t have doors, which is a potential security risk.
“Something needed to be done really quickly…There were a number of classrooms in Richneck Elementary that were built in the ’60s and ’70s open format,” Mullin said. “While the shooting occurred in an enclosed classroom. Not all the classrooms were built that way.
“That we were lucky it hadn’t occurred in a different classroom. That set off some alarm bells in my mind and the minds of others.”
That prompted Mullin and State Sen. Monty Mason (D-Williamsburg) to propose $1.5 million – in both the Virginia House and Senate – for Richneck Elementary.
On the list – adding doors and walls to enclose classrooms.
“The ability to harden portions of the school jumped out,” Mason said.
It’s not just Richneck that will benefit. One problem snowballed to help other schools in the Commonwealth.
The Senate Finance Committee proposed $50 million for school security updates statewide, $1.5 million of that earmarked for Richneck Elementary.
“I think it’s a step,” Mason said. “I think it’s our way of showing we care. I think it is our way of showing we are focused on a specific circumstance and situation.”
This isn’t the only thing Mason and Mullin want to be done.
Mullin said there is a list of issues the Virginia General Assembly needs to take a look at.
“Firearms, we need to be able to make sure we have a commonsense approach to gun safety,” Mullin said. “We need to make sure we are dealing with mental health issues. Making sure we are dealing with school counselors.”
The budget amendments aren’t finalized. The funding was approved by the finance committees of the House of Delegates and the state Senate. It still has to go to the full House and Senate. If approved, it would head to Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s desk.