Without school resource officers and the next school year starting in less than a month, Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. has a plan to beef up security.
Hutchings and staff, on July 16, sent the School Board a three-page proposal acknowledging serious security implications, including “increased vulnerability at school sites, decreased deterrence of situations such as active threats to students, staff and visitors.”
Council voted 4-3 in May to redirect nearly $800,000 in SRO funding toward student mental health resources, a vote that has since been decried by the School Board. The reallocation means there will be no police presence at Alexandria City High School, Francis C. Hammond Middle School and George Washington Middle School.
“Please note that this decision only affords ACPS approximately three months to establish a contingency plan with regards to safety and security mitigations for our students and staff in the midst of our summer learning and reopening for fall during a global pandemic,” Hutchings told the Board in the report.
The options are to hire five more additional security officers for an estimated $185,000; pay detailed police officers $50 an hour to work the perimeter of a school location from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Hutchings’ option, which is a combination of the first two options.
“This option would allow for additional SSO’s to provide supplemental safety coverage and for detailed officer support in frequently patrolling the exterior of facilities,” the staff report said.
Mayor Justin Wilson voted in the minority against eliminating SROs, and previously told ALXnow that he is “dismayed” by the deteriorated relationship between Council and the Board resulting from the decision.
In the meantime, acting Police Chief Don Hayes said that the officers have been put back into patrol operations, and hopes a new memorandum of understanding will be signed with ACPS before school starts.
“Students are going to be students, and we will have things in place to ensure that schools are safe,” Hayes said.
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