Fairfax County School Board Approves Funding for Security, Mental Health Enhancements
As part of Fairfax County Public Schools’ (FCPS) year-end budget review, the Fairfax County School Board approved funding for eight positions to enhance security training in the schools, 18 positions for psychologists and social workers to strengthen mental health support for students, and to replace classroom locks. One million dollars for classroom locks will come from FY18 year-end funds as a one-time cost. Nearly $3 million in recurring costs for eight training positions and 18 psychologist and social worker positions will come from additional state revenue approved by the General Assembly after the FCPS FY19 Approved budget was adopted. The total cost of the initiative is $4 million.
The School Board held public hearings on the recommendations earlier in July to receive feedback and comments from the community.
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.
Funding of $0.8 million was approved to add eight positions, including three positions for a comprehensive safety and security training program, including two security planning and assessment specialists and one inspection technical specialist. Five security planning and assessment specialists will be added to increase the frequency of tabletop exercises. A tabletop exercise provides participants emergency scenarios to evaluate each school’s crisis management plan and response; at least one lockdown drill each year would be conducted during a lunch period and/or between classes; and grade level appropriate training scripts and videos would be provided for lockdown drills.
To strengthen mental health support for students, the Board approved funding of $2.16 million to cover the addition of 18 psychologist and social worker positions. These individuals will also be involved in follow-up work for threat assessments. All high schools currently have full-time psychologists and social workers; the new positions would be placed in middle schools and targeted elementary schools.
To replace outdated door locks, funding of $1.0 million was approved to replace more than 1,800 dual key interior classroom door locks. The new locks will enable school-based personnel to complete swift lockdown protocol.
In addition to the actions implemented as part of the year end budget review process, the School Board requested additional information in a few areas. These areas include additional interior cameras for middle schools and elementary schools and where they would be located, 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 the items requested by School Board members in the June work session, the School Board will hold an additional work session on those areas.
For more information, contact the FCPS Office of Communication and Community Relations at 571-423-1200.