Roanoke city school leaders recommend more school resource officers, new mass notification system

Officials say it would cost an additional $600,000 a year to ensure there is an SRO at each school

Roanoke City Schools partnering with Carilion Clinic to offer students COVID-19 vaccines

ROANOKE, Va. – The discussion of safety in Roanoke city schools continues.

Friday during the school board’s retreat, additional security options were reviewed.

“We discussed with our school board the various measures we already have in place. And then we looked at recommendations and other options for their consideration,” said Superintendent Verletta White.

Some recommendations include a new mass notification cell phone app, student ID badges and an additional 15 school resource officers on top of the already 11 in the district.

The hope is to have one SRO for each school in the district.

“We believe that that is another layer of protection. Is that the only layer? No. But in terms of a comprehensive and holistic layered approach, I believe school resource officers are another key to that puzzle,” said Superintendent White.

The cost to add more SROs is approximately $600,000 per year.

Other safety options discussed, but not recommended, are clear book bags and metal detectors.

Officials said metal detectors could cost nearly $1.7 million each year to be properly manned and operated.

“If I walk into my school everyday and I’ve got to walk through these, I don’t trust the kids. I don’t trust the staff. I don’t trust the community. So I start building up distrust or building walls. Humans live up to expectations and if it’s the expectations that I don’t trust you then somebody is going to prove me right and live up to those expectations,” said Chief Operations Officer, Chris Perkins.

Perkins has 25 years of law enforcement experience.

He said although metal detectors are a tangible thing to make people feel safe, they aren’t necessarily the best safety measure for the district.

“While it may reinforce that we are safe, am I going too far with this safety? Is it a false sense of security?” said Perkins.

The school board is expected to vote on safety measures and a finalized budget at their next meeting on June 28.

About the Author:

Sydney joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2021.