Roanoke City schools approve teacher pay raises in next budget, review active shooter drill

School board hopes raises will make division more competitive

ROANOKE, Va. – Teachers in Roanoke City are getting a raise after the upcoming budget was approved by the school board Tuesday night. School leaders also reviewed lessons learned from an active shooter drill earlier this year.

School board members approved the budget and put a major task behind them. The plan includes a more than 3 percent raise for staff and steps to make the salary scale more uniform. If all goes according to plan, by 2021, the average teacher starting salary will increase by almost $2,000, a move staff hopes will make the division more competitive.

In February, the division hosted a large-scale active shooter drill at William Fleming High School to test their skills. Security Chief Chris Perkins presented the debrief and recap Tuesday night, saying they did well in the active shooter phase but need work in the recovery phase which is what happens after the threat is over.

One of the shortfalls was at the parent-child reunification center where things were overwhelming and crowded by design. Perkins said they need to be better at how many resources are available to interact with parents, family and friends at that exact moment in time.

"I want you to put yourself in the shoes of that parent, how would you feel, how would you feel if Roanoke City Public Schools said, 'Stand over here we'll get to you in just a second,'" Perkins said.

They also identified the fact that many school staff members think the school would not be responsible for notifying family or next of kin in the case of a death, which Perkins said would absolutely fall on the school's shoulders in the midst of chaos.

He plans to train the right staff to make sure they can do their jobs if the worst were to happen and notification was needed.

"Our counselors have to be prepared for that, our staff have to be prepared for that because we need to understand that if we can't account for that student, our staff have to make sure that we provide the proper support," Perkins said.

A handful of parents also expressed concerns over the search for the next principal at Patrick Henry High School. They want to make sure whoever is selected for the job is committed to staying at the school.

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