New Hanover County Manager Proposes $89 Million School Safety Plan
The three-year school safety plan was presented seven weeks after a New Hanover High School student was injured in a school shooting.
NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. — The manager for New Hanover County unveiled an $89 million plan to address school safety and violence within the community.
Chris Coudriet presented the three-year plan during a meeting Monday with county commissioners just seven weeks after a student was injured in a school shooting at New Hanover High School. A week after the shooting, the county authorized Coudriet’s office to use funds made available from the sale of the New Hanover Regional Medical Center to Novant Health, reports WECT.
Coudriet says the plan was created after meetings and conversations were had “with more than 60 diverse service providers, community leaders, school personnel, students and parents, law enforcement, community advocates, and content experts that operate in this space.”
“These have been very intentional conversations that have led us to where we are today. And this is just our starting point, because we still have more information to gather, programs to develop, and additional community input to receive,” Coudriet said. “As that is done, we will bring specific investment measures and program budgets to the Board of Commissioners for their review and approval. We are committed to keep our board and the public informed every step of the way.”
Here’s a brief breakdown of the plan:
- $43 million to improve school hardscapes and education facilities, including perimeter and facility ingress/egress modifications throughout the district, campus-based and district-wide communication, monitoring, and surveillance enhancements, and community-based and facility renovations for education, social, emotional, and life-skill enhancements.
- $19 million to enhance reporting, monitoring and security, including developing a community-based reporting system, placement of at least one school resource officer at every school and an additional safety officer at all learning centers and middle and high schools, and placement of adult monitors on school busses.
- $15 million to coordinate community care and support services, including case management support, intervention, and prevention services to all students and families, and the expansion of existing and effective evidence-based programs.
- $12 million to eliminate education barriers by methods such as doubling the number of high-quality pre-k opportunities, providing at-risk education intervention in schools, and providing tuition support to qualified individuals for career and technical education certifications.
Additionally, the county launched a public input survey about school and community safety, reporting incidents and communication, and community programs and resources. The anonymous survey is open through Nov. 1.
Although commissioners previously authorized the use of hospital sale funds, after Coudriet’s presentation, some elected leaders still disagreed on how the plan should be funded, according to MSN. Commissioners Jonathan Barfield, Deb Hays and Rob Zapple voted to pass a motion that requires staff to submit a budget revision before funds can be spent.
“It’s just not fiscally responsible for us to write a blank check,” said Hays. “We want to see the proposals, we want to understand in detail what it is, this program this initiative and what it’s going to provide for our community.”
Hays and Barfield also said they wanted to discuss finding other ways to pay for the plan, such as through state and federal COVID-19 funding, before using the hospital money.