Fairfax County Public Schools write $4 million check for locks, security and mental health jobs

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Fairfax County public school classrooms will be getting better locks, 18 new mental health professionals will be hired and people are going to be hired to improve security training in the schools. The county school board approved the spending Friday. Total cost: $4 million.

More than 1,800 outdated dual-key interior classroom locks will be replaced to allow a fast lockdown if it’s necessary. Cost: $1 million.

Eight security planners/trainers will be hired. Three of them will design a comprehensive safety and security training program. Five more will run tabletop exercises. Those exercises run through various security scenarios while sitting in a conference room.  At least one lockdown drill each year is planned during lunch or between classes. Cost: $800 thousand a year.

To strengthen mental health support for students, an additional 18 psychologists and social workers will be hired. All high schools currently have full-time psychologists and social workers; the new positions will be placed in middle schools and targeted elementary schools. These individuals will also be involved in follow-up work for threat assessments.   Cost: $2.16 million a year.

Expenses follow in-house recommendations and public hearings

Security recommendations were provided by the FCPS Office of Safety and Security in June, and included an evaluation of current security procedures as well as recommendations for improvements to current security practices. Safety and security training recommendations included improving lockdown drills, reinforcing proper electronic door access, required annual safety and security training, and a review and evaluation of the school-based threat assessment.

Earlier this month the school board held public hearings on the recommendations to receive feedback and comments from the community.

More to come

In addition to these steps, in June the school board requested additional information in a few areas. They include additional interior cameras for middle schools and elementary schools, the effectiveness of an options-based approach to risk assessment in some instances, and a review of procedures for administrative buildings.

Once the Superintendent has completed the review and assessment of those the school board will hold an additional work session on those areas.




About the Author

Ed Tobias
Ed Tobias brings more than four decades of reporting and news management experience to his work at FairfaxNews. Tobias managed news coverage for Associated Press Radio for over twenty years.  This included coverage of the 9/11 attacks, the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, the death of Princess Diana, the Challenger and Columbia shuttle disasters and national election primaries, conventions and campaigns.  He was part of the team that built AP’s on-line video operation. Prior to joining AP, Tobias was News Director at all-news WTOP in Washington, D.C. He has won two Ohio State Awards for his reporting and producing and he led coverage that won an Edward R. Murrow Award.