NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – Newport News Public Schools rolled out plans to increase school security during its school board work session Tuesday.
The announcement comes more than a month after a shooting at Richneck Elementary School.
In work session presentation, board members learned about the top safety concerns of faculty and staff and the district’s plan to address those concerns.
During a Jan. 26 survey of 1,300 employees, 72% had favorable responses to school safety efforts compared to 25% favorable responses to school division safety efforts. Meanwhile, 73% of faculty and staff supported random bag searches and 52% believed clear back packs were effective.
In response to staff concerns, school division administrators will:
- Add security officers in every school
- Will partner with the Newport News Police Department for an Adopt an Officer lunch program
- Will hire a Director of Safe Schools
- Will purchase 12 additional metal detectors for specialized schools, Todd Stadium and for spares
- Weapon Detections System is scheduled to rollout by March 14.
“Make sure all assistant principals and principals are trained around the new metal detection system,” said NNPS Chief of Staff Rashard Wright.
The division says 74 new weapon detection systems were ordered and should arrive by the end of February.
The division also plans to create three committees made up of faculty and parents.
“A family engagement advisory committee, a rights and responsibility advisory committee and a school safety advisory committee,” Wright said.
An alternative program for K-5 students is also in the works.
Come March 1, all elementary schools and early childhood centers will have one security officer per building. By March 14, they will have two per building.
The school division plans to hire retired police officers, retired members of the military and those with a background in security.
Richneck father Mark Garcia said he’s been volunteering as a cafeteria monitor at his son’s school. He said he’s built trust with many students, who he said are still anxious following the shooting, and being someone for them to talk to is important. Garcia said that the school security officer rolls could suit a similar need.
“You should know what’s going on inside the school,” Garcia said. “I think it’ll help. I just wanna be one of those leaders, one of those pillars.”
There is a School Security Job Fair on Feb. 25. The fair will be at Crittenden Middle School from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.