Is FCPS Focusing Enough on Safety and Security?

By Cassandra Aucoin

Last week, I attended the Safety and Security community meeting at South Lakes High School facilitated by Superintendent Reid and Safety and Security Director Tom Vaccarello. With the FCPS four-page information sheet in hand, I listened to the presentation and responses to audience questions. 

What was evident to me is there are extensive security vulnerabilities across Fairfax County Public Schools. A year-long, independent, third-party security review is supposed to complete in July. In the interim, there is a heavy reliance on administrators and teachers to implement crisis management protocols in the event of an active situation. Door lock replacements, enhanced background checks, and cybersecurity safety measures are ongoing, but that is not enough.

Many security initiatives are incomplete. Only half of our elementary schools have external video cameras installed.  Only a few security entrance vestibules have been constructed.  Hundreds of outdoor trailers on campuses have no means of protection.  Elementary schools have no security officers or School Resource Officers (SROs).  

Are you as concerned about this lack of progress as I am? How much time is needed for an assessment with proposed solutions? 

Over 50% of Fairfax County’s budget is earmarked for public schools. The School Board will likely adopt its Fiscal Year 2024 budget of $3.5 billion later this month.  It includes one security-related increase for five additional security officers. Every School Board member must be asked to respond to this lack of preparedness to keep our children safe.  Isn’t the safety of our children worth it?  

Cassandra Aucoin is running for one of three at-large seats on the Fairfax County School Board. Her letter to the editor was first published on May 26, 2023 by the Fairfax County Times.

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