Roanoke city, school leaders discuss school safety

Superintendent proposes new measures to protect schools

ROANOKE, Va. – City Council members and school leaders in the Star City are talking safety.

The superintendent of Roanoke City Public Schools met with City Council on Tuesday night to talk about what needs to happen after last week's deadly school shooting in Florida.

"You think about, 'Well, are we secure? Are we safe?'" Mayor Sherman Lea said.

That's why Superintendent Rita Bishop addressed the issue with City Council on Tuesday night. She said the school system is spending $1.3 million a year on security. Last week, she told 10 News they were already considering additional security measures.

"You can't reassure anyone but we will do everything within our power to ensure the safety of the students in this school district," Bishop said.

As part of that, the district is creating a chief of security and asking the city for $242,000 to hire four more sheriff's deputies to work in elementary schools.

"Maybe if we are not at this time able to do all four, maybe we can do something," Lea said.

 In the meantime, Bishop said she wants to re-evaluate fire drills.

"We’re going to say: Unless the fire alarm is accompanied by a principal saying this is for real or this is a drill, everybody participates or whatever, saying something, I think that we just can't have fire alarms as usual," Bishop said.

By also creating a task force on gun violence, Lea hopes they can continue taking steps to protect schools.

"If not metal detectors, something that can screen book bags and things, because you never know what's in a bag," Lea said.

The issue heads to Roanoke County Schools for discussion Thursday night, as the school board is holding a special meeting to talk about school safety.