CHARLESTON, W.Va. _ Gov. Joe Manchin continues to make school safety a top priority with an initiative to examine the level of security at school entry access points. The governor recently directed $10 million to the West Virginia School Building Authority (SBA) as part of the School Access Safety Act.
The SBA also is working in collaboration with the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) on school building safety issues.
“The health and safety of our students has always been a top priority but it is spotlighted even more so when tragedies happen, like the recent school shooting in Cleveland,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. “When school violence occurs anywhere in the nation, it serves as a reminder that we cannot be complacent.”
Research shows that school connectedness is one of the most important factors in preventing school violence. Creating positive relationships between students and teachers provides a strong foundation for at-risk students. The WVDE has integrated school connectedness into its Positive School Climate Training. Twenty-two public schools in 12 West Virginia counties have already undergone the training.
The WVDE also is encouraging all West Virginia schools to review their crisis management plans. The WVDE provides technical assistance to schools related to such plans. These plans are customized to each county school system and explore items such as school security and actions to take in the case of a bomb threat or an intruder entering the building. Each county school system is required to have a crisis management plan in place under the federal Safe Schools Act.
“Parents trust that when they send their children to school they will be in a safe and nurturing environment,” Paine said. “While every school has an active safety plan, it is also important that students, parents, teachers and administrators work together to identify and report unusual behavior by anyone on a school campus.”
The WVDE also focuses a great deal on prevention programs, such as peer mediation, conflict resolution, student assistant teams, and bullying and harassment programs.
For more information related to school safety initiatives, contact the WVDE Communications Office at (304) 558-2699.