Lynchburg, VA - Lynchburg City School Administrators admit there is a lot of work left to do in making sure that city schools are 100% safe.
That was announced Wednesday night during a public meeting at Linkhorne Middle School.
Administrators told the crowd of predominantly parents, that since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, school safety has quickly become a top priority. In ten months they say city schools have come a long way. Prior to September of this school year, Lynchburg City Schools had never conducted a lockdown drill; now, two lockdown drills a year have become mandatory.
Administrators used this public forum as an opportunity to showcase some of what has been accomplished in the previous few months, including slowly putting every school on a security camera system, also implementing a building ID check point for visitors upon entry. Also, numbering every exterior door to each school; all those projects are in the process of being implemented.
Much of the safety improvements have been orchestrated in conjunction with city police. For the last ten months, officers have gone to each of the system's 19 schools, and conducted drills with teachers and students.
Many parents said they are impressed with the steps being taken, discouraged however, with the timeline in which they're being implemented.
"It's not as easy as just coming up with a quick plan and implementing it quickly at any one facility. At the same time, I think it's pretty obvious that people are frustrated at the slow pace that things have been done" said John Salmon, a school system parent
Administrators pushed back though trying to explain that improvements cost money, and in an always tight budget, finding the funding when schools need to be renovated and new books need to be bought, can be a struggle.
"The level of frustration is very easy to understand from a parent's perspective. But when I balance everything that's going on and I will have to say, the degraded quality of things across the entire school division, then it becomes more of a balancing act" said Ben Copeland, the Assistant Superintendent of Operations.
Another topic that came up was a resignation letter from earlier this month, drafted by a 6th Grade Linkhorne Middle School History teacher that has been circulating among parents.
According to the letter, this teacher served on a school system safety commission, he claims he was unhappy with what was being done, and how quickly. School officials though maintained, they are doing all they can, and they regret this educator's decision to resign.
There are two more of these public safety meetings, one on Wednesday November 6, at Dunbar Middle School, the other on November 13 at Sandusky Middle School.