PORTSMOUTH, Va (WAVY) — In the wake of February’s deadly school shooting in Florida, many Hampton Roads school districts have set aside considerable amounts of cash to beef up their own security.
17 people were killed, and more were injured when a former student opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14. Since that time, 260 bills in 34 states have been introduced to address school security in the United States, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
“Our schools are safe,” said Aaron Spence, Superintendent of Virginia Beach City Public Schools. “I think our community realized that when we saw the school shooting at Parkland, it was another stark reminder of what can happen in our schools.”
In Hampton Roads, nearly all of the school districts are dedicating new funds to keeping the school grounds safe. Chesapeake Public Schools will be spending the greatest amount after the Chesapeake City Council approved emergency funds in March to upgrade school security.
The following is a listing of new money spent in 2018-2019 budgets and a sample of new initiatives school districts are moving forward with as the school year begins.
CHESAPEAKE PUBLIC SCHOOLS: $2 million
- District installed new buzzer systems at all schools that require visitors to be seen and heard before entering the building.
- Lockdown Level Poster
- No trespassing signs
NORFOLK PUBLIC SCHOOLS: .$0
- Looking to fund security camera upgrade.
HAMPTON CITY SCHOOLS: $0
- Hampton Police train all employees in ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.)
WILLIAMSBURG-JAMES CITY COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS: $18,000
- Expanded Ident-A-Kid visitor management program to all schools.
VIRGINIA BEACH CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS: $1.5 Million
- Implementing a buzz-in system.
- Security infrastructure maintenance.
- Applied for $700,000 in grants applied for by the Office of Safety and Loss Control.
YORK PUBLIC SCHOOLS: $461,000
- 2 new school resource officers in middle schools.
- Upgrades to 4 security vestibules
NEWPORT NEWS PUBLIC SCHOOLS: $136,000
- Installed additional security cameras and replaced/upgraded camera/door buzzer entry systems to improve visibility at 16 school and office locations.
PORTSMOUTH PUBLIC SCHOOLS: $1 million
Installing school security stations, additional security cameras, visitor check-in machines, and new security radios.
School security officers in all 13 elementary schools.
SUFFOLK PUBLIC SCHOOLS: $5,000
- Expanding school resource officer program.
POQUOSON CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS: $39,292
- Hired 2 school resource officers.
- Upgrading security camera hardware.
ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY SCHOOLS: $840,000
- Upgrading the division’s emergency communications system.
- Upgrade in intrusion detection systems
- Expanding schools’ existing access control badge system.
- Upgrade interior security cameras to HD.
- Install door barricade system.
It is important to note that not all of the money listed off comes directly out of your pocket. Many school districts have received grants to offset the security costs.
“It is very important and I don’t take it lightly,” said Albert White, a school resource officer for Norfolk Public Schools. “We need that situational awareness to know what is going on in the community.”