Roanoke City Council hears from school leaders on security, teacher pay

ROANOKE, Va. – School security and teacher pay were among the topics of discussion Monday between the members of the Roanoke City School Board and the City Council.

In the first joint Roanoke City Council and Roanoke City School Board meeting of 2019, the chief of security, Chris Perkins, updated council members on how the district is addressing school security through a layered approach.

"The most important layer being the people themselves. How they respond and how they can handle themselves in situations and, simply, attention to detail. The smallest things help us to be better prepared when the big things happen," said Perkins.                                    

The district employees will put their skills to the test with an active shooter drill Feb. 15 at William Fleming High School. This is something the area does every three years.

"We're bringing representatives from every school and program in the district. And we're going to evaluate our ability to identify, respond and then recover to an active threat, whatever the may be," said Perkins. 

Besides school security, how does Roanoke City rank when it comes to teacher pay? Dr. Rita Bishop says the city is top in the Roanoke Valley behind Salem. She also says teachers have never failed to get a raise but they struggle to fill teacher openings and hire minority employees. Council member Anita Price says the city is headed in the right direction when it comes to salary. 

"Teacher pay and salary increases are vitally important if we're going to continue to attract and retain the best to educate our children. We can't expect to have the best if we don't give them the best," said Price.

Annette Lewis school board chairman says a recruiter was hired and is establishing relationships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities to bring in more minority representation to schools.

An update was also given on Fallon Park Elementary School. where phase one is almost complete. It includes the academic building that will house 26 classrooms. Teachers and students should be able to move in next month. The final phase should by finished by the summer of 2020.