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School Safety

When I was a long-term substitute, our elementary school classrooms did not have doors. After Sandy Hook, I knew that had to change and I began lobbying our elected officials and Superintendent, as well as coordinating other parents after our principal was unwilling to pursue the idea. That led to speaking at School Board meetings, to the General Assembly delegation, my PTA, and to Board of Supervisors members about the need to increase not only funding for our schools but also increased salaries for our teachers and ESPs, increasing the number of mental health professionals, reducing the number of trailers, and increasing funding for school renovations. I have worked with our General Assembly members to try to change laws that negatively impact our kids, including but not limited to Special Ed due process changes, gun safety legislation, and increasing the number of mental health professionals in our schools. I do not believe that school safety can be addressed with calls to bring guns into schools.

 

I plan on improving school safety by addressing all school safety aspects, including:

  • Increasing the number of mental health professionals

    • Better access to mental health professionals during the school day is essential to supporting our students’ emotional and mental health. Better school environments rely on having more counselors, psychologists and social workers in our schools. The proposed 18 additional staff is not nearly enough. Schools psychologists and social workers are key to helping students and staff understand kids with disabilities, helping students cope with bullying, helping military kids transition, helping promote tolerance and understanding of different religions, races or sexual orientations.

  • Reducing the number of trailers

    • Currently​, there are nearly 800 trailers housing more than 20,000 FCPS students. That is 5,000 more students than the total number of students in Alexandria City Public Schools. These trailers are often not well-maintained including poor temperature control, air quality, doors that don't lock properly, roofs that leak, and huge mold and mildew problems.

  • Increased funding for school renovations

    • The renovation cycle for construction, renovation, and maintenance of our school buildings currently averages 37 years, when they were designed to withstand a 20-25 year cycle. With our school buildings up to 17 years behind their recommended renovation schedule, we leave our students vulnerable to many of the same problems they face in trailers.

  • Protecting students and staff against discrimination

    • FCPS is charged with protecting and supporting ALL our students. Our country has become increasingly divided and in Fairfax County alone, we’ve seen a nearly 50% increase in hate crimes, which makes our responsibility to provide equity of opportunity all the more important.

    • FCPS students need safe and equitable access to all facilities. We cannot continue to pass resolutions with no actual policy behind it. Case by case decisions are NOT sufficient to protect our students and staff from discrimination. Once we have worked with stakeholders to develop a policy that allows equal access, we will need to work to ensure that it is implemented appropriately and fairly.