Roanoke City Public Schools reviews the progress of new safety measures

Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 5:54 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Roanoke City Public Schools recently received funding from the state along with the school board to improve safety. WDBJ7 checked in with school officials to see where they are in the process of completing safety measures.

Just last week, RCPS tested its new panic button. It alerts police officers and school staff within a 5-mile radius of armed intruders. RCPS Chief Operating Officer Chris Perkins says some people were concerned it kept going off during the test.

“Remember we tested 32 sites. So that’s why it went off 32 times, but in a real crisis it should only go off one time and you should have the ability and understand how to work your device to make sure you can turn it off,” explained Perkins.

The new cellphone app is part of 25 safety measures funded by the Roanoke City School Board. Perkins said they have started implementing all of them, like a new hotline.

“We’ve had 18 such tips that have come through on a hotline that we’ve been able to work through a process and bring to bear a proper remedy,” said Perkins.

The district is also installing special locks on almost 1000 doors, that allow them to be locked from the inside.

“We’re almost finished. We probably have a month and a half of installation,” added Perkins. “And what really slowed us down is supply chain issues, finding the equipment to outfit and upgrade these doors.”

In October, RCPS received state funding to hire 14 school security officers. Perkins says they hired 3. SSOs are needed for elementary schools, which haven’t had any in the past.

“The idea is to have that person there that can truly focus on the safety side,” said Perkins. “To where our teachers and our other staff and administrators can focus on the education, which is the sole purpose that we exist; that’s our education.”

School leaders will be sharing a public report about all safety measures with the school board February 14.

“Safety is relevant to the individual. I believe we have a good culture of safety in this district,” said Perkins.

Click here if you’re interested in applying to be an SSO.