CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The Chesterfield County Public School Safety Task Force is exploring new ways to keep children safe.
A work group within the task force will recommend to the entire task force during a meeting Wednesday morning for more resource officers in county schools.
The group wants to increase safety within the district and says that will happen by hiring roughly 30 more resource officers. They’re recommending that Chesterfield schools develop a five-year budget plan to fund this, and want the focus to be on elementary schools.
Currently, only middle and high schools in the district have armed school resource officers who work for the police department. They also have security officers who do not work for the police department and are not armed.
The group is recommending armed retired police officers be placed in classrooms. This proposal was denied earlier this year by the task force.
The big change with this new proposal is that the group wants these retired police officers to be hired by the police department and not the school district. They’re asking that the General Assembly provide an exception for recently retired officers to get their benefits if they serve as a resource officer.
Some other recommendations included better transparency reports, funding for mental health and a safety app for students, emergency crews, families and staff.
The proposal must be approved by the task force before it can head to the school board.
The task force shared its top ten school safety recommendations in its draft report:
- Chesterfield County Public Schools should develop a five-year budget plan to increase School Resource Officer coverage to all schools with a focus on the elementary level. This plan should include a recommendation from the board to advocate for the General Assembly to provide an exception for recently retired law enforcement to retain their retirement benefits if they serve as School Resource Officers.
- Increase funding for additional mental health staffing
- Control access to schools through vestibules
- Amend the Virginia Standards of Quality to align student support personnel ratios with best practices
- Develop a plan to initially fund and sustain multi-tiered whole child frameworks, pre-K through 12th grade: Social Emotional Learning (SEL), Trauma Informed Care (TIC), Restorative Practices (RP), Positive Behavior Interventions & Support (PBIS)
- The role of the School Resource Officer should be clearly defined to the staff, students, and the school community.
- Examine School Security Officer Role or Mentor Role in Elementary Schools.
- Ensure that crisis plans, maps, floor plans and overhead photos are shared with public safety agencies and use common terminology, labeling, keys and formats.
- CCPS to provide a more comprehensive alternative education setting to include support services.
- Conduct a review of student support services’ job responsibilities and reassign tasks that do not conform to professional training and expertise.
The task force will present a final report to the school board on Dec. 11. Comments from the public are welcome.
Click here to read the task force’s draft report to the school board.
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