Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Michelle Reid proposed a $3.5 billion budget at last week’s school board meeting, as many parents question the amount of money school district officials are spending on legal bills and equity contracts.

The proposal is a $249.6 million or 7.6 percent increase over the FY2023 budget.

In the budget, the superintendent proposed $400,000 to hire five additional “school security officers” to work on the FCPS security team. The officers will concentrate on elementary school safety and security coverage, according to Julie Moult, the school spokeswoman. She did not answer questions on whether school security officers are armed, saying that they “don’t share information of that nature,” but she stipulated they are not School Resource Officers working for the Fairfax County Police Department.

Reid’s budget proposal came after the community participation portion of the board meeting at which local parent and FBI Agent Matthew Schempp spoke about the need for added security in light of incidents like the recent shooting at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News. Speaking quickly to finish his speech in the allotted 2 minutes, Schempp highlighted the need for elementary school safety saying it’s an issue “to which we have collectively become complacent.” He added that it’s become a problem that will increase and said the only real chance to save lives is to have law enforcement present at area elementary schools before any shooting begins.

As an FBI agent, Schempp’s job was part of the tactical response to several mass shooting incidents including the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman-Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. 

“Nationally, a 3-minute police response time is very good,” said Schempp. By the time three minutes had passed at Uvalde, more than 100 rounds had been fired, he said. “The sad truth is, that by the time police arrive, it’s already too late. The only way around that is to have an SRO on scene beforehand.”

Schempp said in 2022 Prince William County placed School Resource Officers in their elementary schools and Loudoun County plans to place SROs in their elementary schools by 2024. He said he realizes resources are finite and Fairfax County Police have many responsibilities. However, the “school security officers” that Reid proposed are school district employees, not FCPD employees.

Prince William County Public Schools (PWCPS) provides security at their 64 elementary schools in the form of full-time security assistants, who are school district employees, and are also supported by seven Community Support Officers (CSO), according to Diana Gulotta, director of Communication Services for PWCPS. She said those assistants provide school support ensuring compliance with key security protocols including regular perimeter checks, monitoring entry, and other safety measures. CSOs are armed officers employed by the school district.

Loudoun County did not respond to questions about proposed security in their elementary schools.

“In Fairfax County, we seem to have adopted the strategy of hope,” said Schempp. “We hope it won’t be our schools next time …our kids. I’m here to tell you as someone who has witnessed such carnage in person, that hope is a bad plan.”

Vienna resident Anthony Sabio said he doesn’t think that five security officers are enough to cover 142 elementary schools that are spread over a 406-square-mile radius.

“This leaves inadequate response times to incidents for officers that are dedicated to the safety and security of the schools,” said Sabio, CEO of Vienna-based The RockFinn Group, LLC, a company specializing in a variety of security services and self-defense. Sabio, who has more than 22 years of security experience in the military, the U.S. Secret Service, and the CIA recently announced he is a school board candidate in the Providence District.

“Additionally, there is much more than officers arriving on the scene in the security of schools,” said Sabio. “Officers should be familiar with the specific school’s protocol and emergency plan that should be unique to each location. Considering staff, resources, and building layout are not the same from location to location, this puts responding units having to move in blind to neutralize a threat. Furthermore, this severely hurts the critical emergency training of the school staff with SROs when they are spread so thin.”  

In addition to added security, other critical areas in the budget include cybersecurity upgrades but also background checks for employees because of the case late last year in which a guidance counselor from Glasgow Middle School was fired after he’d been arrested and convicted of felony solicitation of a minor in another part of the state. 

Other key areas in the budget include investments that close the achievement gap, a continuation of green investments, and proposed increases in employee compensation.


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