Albemarle County School Board Approves Measures to Enhance Safety

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Meeting of the Albemarle County School Board Meeting of the Albemarle County School Board
Dean Tistadt Dean Tistadt
Kate Acuff Kate Acuff

Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS) are taking steps to make schools safer in wake of the deadly shooting in Parkland, Florida.

“We continue to try to enhance our safety and security of our staff and students,” said ACPS Chief Operating Officer Dean Tistadt.

“We've really been looking at our security measures and efforts at the school level, at the division level,” said ACPS Board Chair Kate Acuff. “At the division level we've worked in partnership with the police department and they have a 24 hour assessment of social media threats.”

The School Board recently voted to install blinds in all exterior windows to prevent someone from looking into the classrooms. Very few classrooms have window shades, but the shooting in Parkland heightened the push for more security measures in schools.

“Every time we have one of these event, whether it was back to Columbine or Sandy Hook or this one, that reminds us we need to get back to being a little bit diligent about this,” Tistadt said.

The board approved $300,000 in funding for interior and exterior window shades.

Another preventative approach includes addressing mental health.

“We've added money for mental health counseling to sort of look at prevention more than response in case of an active shooter,” Acuff said.

A proposal to finish adding bullet-resistant film to interior windows has been delayed for further research, but some other ideas includes electronic locks for front doors.

“So far I think we're doing a pretty good job, but there's always room for suggestions and improvements,” said Acuff.

The Albemarle County school system plans to install the new window shades in all classrooms by the beginning of the new school year.

If the school board decides to approve the bullet-resistant film for windows, that would also be completed this year.