Shenandoah County Parents, Administrators Discuss School Safety

By: Estephany Escobar Email
By: Estephany Escobar Email

WOODSTOCK, Va. -- Shenandoah County Public Schools administrators hosted the third school safety forum of the year.

Parent Rhonda Shelton said the school shooting in Newtown has highlighted the need for more safety in schools.

"We didn't have these things happen when we were kids and I certainly don't want it to happen to my kids," Shelton said.

During the forum, Superintendent Dr. Keith Rowland talked about ideas to make schools safer.

Some of the ideas include assigning armed school resource officer to every school.

Right now, the schools have six officers, but most of them have more than one school assigned.

Other ideas, include locking outside locks and adding a buzz-in system.

In addition, Rowland said they could add locks to the inside of every classroom.

This is an idea that teacher Wendy DuVal approves.

She said right now teachers have to lock the door from the outside when they have emergency drills.

She said she works in different classrooms and doesn't have the keys to all of them, if an emergency happened.

"I could be anywhere in the school, if an alarm went off, then I could secure the room and make sure the children were safe," she said.

In addition, Rowland said the schools can add security cameras and make changes to their front entrances.

The proposed ideas could cost up to $500,000, according to Rowland.

Sheriff Timothy Carter said it will be up to the county to pay for it.

"The question is what would the county provide in addition to what we have already. Whether it be increase in staffing, increase in facilities or enhancement in facilities," Carter said.

For Shelton, a way to make schools safer that was not mentioned, is to replace the doors outside.

"There are all glass doors. I think they should be replaced with steel doors and not so much glass. I would like that to take place. That way you don't see everything that's happening within the school," Shelton said.

Shelton said she hopes the school board at least makes some improvements.

"I don't want it to be something to take place to make them take action. Something bad to happen. It would just be better if it could just take action before something bad [happens]," Shelton.

The school board will review the ideas and parents' comments in February.

After that, school administrators will meet with the county supervisors to request funding for the improvements.

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