WJCC School Board discusses security at March 6 work session


Williamsburg James City County School Board members discussed the possibility of adding increased security to the 2018-2019 school year budget at the March 6, work session.

Sandra Young, Berkeley, brought up adding more security measures to the budget because of the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14. Young wondered if there should be more security guards in the district’s schools. The officers working at WJCC schools are given by Williamsburg City and James City County Police Departments.

“I think the conversation is not necessarily about school security as a whole, but with this budget in front of us, do we want to have a conversation about directing Dr. Herron to figuring out if we should invest more resources in the high school, middle school, and elementary school levels,” Kyra Cook, Williamsburg, said. “If that is the direction of this board, whether or not the opportunity cost might be prioritized that over something else.”

James Beers, Roberts, said while we have cameras at every school, they are currently just to have a record of an incident if it happens.

“That’s what everyone is always relying on and its always after the fact,” Beers said. “I think it's important to be able to be proactive rather than always reactive.”

Beers suggested having security staff watch the footage of security cameras at schools full time. He said trained staff already in the building may be able to take on that responsibility.

Before the discussion of the budget Valda Valbrun, the CEO of Valbrun Consulting Group, gave an overview of her timeline for producing WJCC’s next five-year plan. The School Board awarded a contract of $50,000 to Valbrun Consulting Group to assist W-JCC in developing the division’s plan.

Board member Jim Kelly, Jamestown, said the board is creating a new five-year plan because the last one is about to run out. While he and the other board members will look to the old one to help inform them, he said they will be taking a new perspective with the 2018-2023 plan.

“Well, things have changed in five years and there are new demands, new technology, kids are in a different place, so taking a new look at it every five years and going forward is the right thing to do,” Kelly said.

Valburn said the company started the process in February by designing a schedule, assembling a team and developing a communication survey. The strategic planning input survey is available online at wjccschools.org/strategicplan. The survey was originally planned to end on March 9, but may be extended. Valburn said they will have the results of the survey by March 23. In April the group will conduct focus groups, and in May they will have a two day planning retreat, draft the plan's goals and look at cost value. The final proposal will be ready for the board to adopt on June 30.

“Sounds ambitious but its very doable,” Valburn said.

Another topic of significance at the work session is the 2018-2019 school year calendar. The board voted to move Back to School Night for high schools to Sept. 25. This is because the current day for Back to School Night, Sept. 18, is the beginning of Yom Kippur, the most important holiday of the Jewish faith. The motion was passed 6-0 with Julie Hummel, Williamsburg, absent.

Want to attend the next School Board meeting?

The WJCC School Board will be having a joint meeting with the City Council and Board of Supervisors from 9-11 a.m. on March 16, at Legacy Hall on 4301 New Town Avenue.

The next regular WJCC School Board meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. on March 20, at the James City County Complex building F on 101 Mounts Bay Road.

Amelia Heymann can be reached by email at aheymann@dailypress.com, or on twitter @HeymannAmelia.

Copyright © 2018, The Virginia Gazette