PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Portsmouth Public Schools wants to add metal detectors to its elementary schools and preschool centers following the Richneck Elementary School shooting.
In a letter to Interim City Manager Mimi Terry, Portsmouth Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Elie Bracy III has asked for $4.6 million in additional funding from the city for weapon detection systems for the division’s 13 elementary schools and three preschool centers. One preschool center – Churchland Preschool – is run from Churchland Academy, a K-6 school.
“Any time there is an act of violence in schools, we work to review our processes and resources and see how we can better prepare to keep such a tragic event from happening here,” Bracy said in the letter. “I know there is no better investment our city can make than in the protection of our children.”
Portsmouth Public Schools already has funding for the same system in its six secondary schools, using $2 million in its reversion funds to pay for them.
“Most times, as we all know, when there is violence in the community, it spills into the schools,” said Portsmouth School Board Director Dr. Cardell Patillo. “Last year, we made the decision to put a phase in process in place.”
Patillo told 10 On Your Side the systems allow students to walk under and, if there is a weapon, a school safety officer’s monitor would notify them.
“They would know who and pinpoint the area where the actual weapon was detected,” Patillo said. “These are much more efficient and updated. It wouldn’t really prolong the school day. They can all come through and they would scan everyone while they are coming through.”
Patillo explained that weapon detection systems can identify weapons on individuals in large groups. He said they’re similar to those used at theme parks and sports stadiums.
Patillo said the school division wants the systems implemented by the end of the school year.
“We want to ensure our students, parents and staff that their health and safety is our primary concern,” he said. “To put that extra safeguard to ensure weapons, if they were to make their way to our campuses, they would detect those.”
Patillo said he has no doubt the city manager will work with the school board for the safety of the students, staff and parents.
“The safety and the well-being of our students is a primary concern for our city council and city manager,” Patillo said. “We have high hopes that we are going to hear back from them soon and we can make this happen.”
Read the letter from Portsmouth Superintendent Dr. Elie Bracy III to Interim City Manager Mimi Terry below:
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