Lynchburg, VA - Two local people on the Governor's School and Campus Safety Task Force are back in town after helping to come up with 27 recommendations to make our schools safer. Governor McDonnell put together the Task Force following the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
They are preliminary recommendations at this point. McDonnell wanted some ideas for legislators to hammer out in this General Assembly session, and two people from this area helped do it.
Jill McGarrity is one of the youngest members of the Governor's task force, but the Lynchburg College student is not without big ideas.
"I think it's important to practice lock down drills more, so that not only teachers and students but administrators are aware of what to do in a crisis negotiation," said McGarrity.
The Task Force's ideas are large and small, pricey and cheap. More lock down drills and defining "bullying" in the state code of Virginia are ideas with lower price tags. But appointing an emergency manager in every school and more school resource officers equipped with more training is a whole other story that could cost.
Superintendent Scott Brabrand, another task force member, worries about paying for all these ideas.
"That's part of the balancing act. Everyone wants to make sure the schools are as safe as they can be. We just need to be sure the right resources are in place for that to happen," said Dr. Brabrand.
Training all school personnel is another theme the Task Force honed in on. What that training looks like is still to be determined. Take SROs for example - their training must be specialized.
"Everyone around that task force agreed: Life as a police officer on the street is not the same as life as a police officer in a school," said Dr. Brabrand.
This week, the task force did its first job. Now, it's in the General Assembly's hands.
"I just hope that these recommendations will pass through the General Assembly, so that when I'm a future school teacher, I'll feel extremely safe within the school system," said McGarrity.
Dr. Brabrand says this task force is worth it and believes the ideas can be put in place soon. The Task Force's final recommendations are expected this summer.