The city's public school division is spending more than $1 million to support recommendations from its Blue Ribbon Panel on School Safety and Security.
The funds will be used to bolster security infrastructure in public schools around the city, including, adding more cameras, expanding access control for staff in buildings, moving security desks closer to school entrances to check in guests; and increasing external fencing at some school campuses, said division spokesperson, Bradley A. Windham.
This resolution is the latest addition to the division's school security enhancements.
This September, three months ahead of schedule, a new buzz-in security system for all 86 of the division's schools and centers was installed.
These funds will go to bolster security infrastructure around the division, including adding more cameras in schools, expanding access control for staff in buildings, moving security desks closer to school entrances to check in guests and increasing external fencing at some school campuses
With the new buzz-in system, guests and visitors to any school must use a video intercom system, at the building's main entrance, to request entry. All visitors must press a buzzer to connect with a school security staff member, who can see, hear and speak to individuals trying to get in.
Virginia Beach City Public Schools was also recently awarded $91,661, by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, in School Security Equipment grants, to augment existing equipment at the following schools: Bayside 6th Grade Campus, Bayside Middle, Birdneck Elementary, Christopher Farms Elementary, First Colonial High, Independence Middle, Larkspur Middle, Lynnhaven Middle, Plaza Middle, Salem Middle and Virginia Beach Middle.
Some of the new equipment includes closed circuit cameras, two-way radios, electronic door locks and scanners for a visitor management system.
Throughout the year, division administration will continue to develop, implement and expand the use of new and existing resources, where appropriate, to meet the Blue Ribbon Panel's recommendations.
"When the Blue Ribbon Panel was commissioned this spring, we took an earnest look at our security offerings and asked for ways we could improve them," said Dr. Aaron Spence, superintendent of Virginia Beach City Public Schools. "This is yet another step in us continuing that commitment to our community and honoring the expertise and feedback we received from these security professionals."
For more information on the school division's ongoing security practices, visit vbschools.com.
At the state level, Governor Ralph Northam recently awarded $6 million in School Security Equipment Grants statewide to protect students and teachers in 102 school divisions and the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind.
The grants will pay for video monitoring systems, metal detectors, classroom locks, electronic-access controls, visitor-identification systems, direct communications links between schools and law enforcement agencies, and other security upgrades in 443 schools and other instructional facilities.
“Since its inception in 2013, the school security equipment grant program has funded nearly 2,900 new projects and system upgrades to ensure the safety Virginia students and educators,” said Northam. “These grants are a key component of the Commonwealth’s comprehensive approach to protecting schools.”
The criteria for making the awards, developed by the Virginia Department of Education and the state Department of Criminal Justice Services, give priority to schools most in need of modern security equipment, schools with relatively high numbers of offenses, schools with equipment needs identified by a school security audit, and schools in divisions least able to afford security upgrades.
Virginia Beach schools set to received additional security improvements are: Bayside 6th-Grade Campus, Bayside Middle, Birdneck Elementary, Christopher Farms Elementary, First Colonial High, Independence Middle, Larkspur Middle, Lynnhaven Middle, Plaza Middle, Salem Middle and Virginia Beach Middle