PWCS Details Its School Safety Measures

| February 18, 2018 | 0 Comments | News

Photo by Ashleigh Henegar

After the school shooting in Florida, parents have inquired as to what security measures are in place in Prince William County Schools.

PWCS has measures in place to protect its schools, students and staff, and continues to make incremental improvements each year.

“PWCS is committed to student and staff safety, and has put several measures into place to ensure a safe climate,” said Diana Gulotta, Director of Communications Services.

PWCS has focused on preparedness training; communications and security; community input and continual improvements to facility infrastructure.

“Preparedness is very important, and PWCS has a frequently reviewed and updated crisis management plan. We conduct extensive training with staff and conduct tablet top exercises and drills to ensure our plans are followed. All new hires are required to view a video on crisis management as well,” Gulotta said.

For emergency communications they employ 400 MHz and/or 800 MHz radios for emergency communication and interior and exterior cameras.

The Raptor visitor system at all schools requires valid identification for entry into a school. The ID scans will automatically flag any visitors who is a registered sex offender.

School resource officers and security officers are present in schools, and the division conducts threat assessments on their school facilities.

By law, school divisions are not required to share measures by specific location. “The law enables us to protect that information because it can pose a security threat to our schools to share that information,” Gulotta said.

PWCS gathers community input via a Safe Schools Advisory Council. Security upgrades were recommended through the Infrastructure Task Force. Those recommendations, such as inside-locking classrooms, are being implemented.

“The proposed budget for FY 19 includes $742,000 for elementary school security upgrades. In addition, whenever we complete renovations at schools, we update security measures as well. Since 2010, PWCS has received $1.1 million in grant funding for security infrastructure projects as well as staff crisis preparedness training at all levels.”

However, one member of the task force contacted Bristow Beat because she felt some physical upgrades were not being implemented fast enough. She recognizes that money is obstacle, but believes all schools should be outfitted same level of security that new school have.

“With nearly 100 schools, it does take time and money to address and we will continue to look at and consider improvements,” said Gulotta.

Coles District School Board member Willie Deutsch told Bristow Beat that security is a priority for the school board.

“We’ve identified it and we’re working on it,” said Deutsch. “Obviously top priority. There’s been action taken over the last year, and they’ll be more action in the next year.”

Brentsville School Board member Gil Trenum supports safety and security upgrades and would like to see if it is possible to do more before the school year is out.

“When the Infrastructure Task Force first brought forward their recommendations I immediately said that we should consider putting those into the upcoming budget.,” said Trenum. “Security is always a serious issue, as the tragedy in Florida unfortunately reminds us. There is already a line item in the Superintendent’s proposed 2019 budget for security upgrades but I will also be looking for opportunities to see if we can move some of them into the 2018 fiscal year using end of year funding.

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