Local elementary school beefing up security next fall
Virginia elementary schools are beefing up security. More School Resource Officers will be patrolling thanks to new grant money from Governor Bob McDonnell.
We caught up with one school in the region to find out more on the funding and what impact that will have.
Summer school is in session at Washington-Lee Elementary School in Bristol, Virginia.
Melissa Holipski is picking up her son Chase, a soon to be first-grader. "I feel he's very safe," she said.
But this fall Chase and his fellow classmates will be even more protected, thanks to a portion of a $1.3 million Virginia government grant that will pay for at least one new School Resource officer at Bristol, Virginia elementary schools.
"When you add more [officers], there's more strength in numbers," said Holipski.
We learned currently there is one officer at the high school and another at the middle school. This grant money will help pay for the newly hired SRO's salary and benefits. "It's a positive impact for us because it's something that's not going to impact our budget. It will pay for School Resource Officer, which could be $65,000 to $75,000," said Bristol Virginia School Superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg.
Strengthening security is a top priority. Earlier this year police helped teachers with hand-to-hand training to keep classrooms safe in case of an emergency.
Police Chief Bill Price says these steps along with adding security cameras, a better communication system, and even the placement of SROs are all in the works for the next school year. "I try to plan for the future and if there's any way I can prevent something I'll try to do it," said Chief Price.
Across the commonwealth a total of 24 cities and counties will receive this grant money. Here at home those schools include Russell County Elementary Schools, Smyth County's Tech Center and Middle School, and Tazewelll Middle and High Schools.
This change is in reaction to the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook. State lawmakers say more could come in later years.
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