VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) -- The superintendent of Virginia Beach City Public Schools said the division will form a Blue Ribbon Panel on School Safety and Security which will include community leaders and security experts.

Dr. Aaron Spence announced the formation of the panel on Tuesday. Spence was joined with Virginia Beach Police Chief James Cervera and Capt. Chad Vincelette, commanding officer of Naval Air Station Oceana.

"To be clear, our schools are safe. We have dedicated staff members in this division who ensure that our schools are secure and welcoming places for our students and families each and every day," said Spence, noting that because student safety and well-being is VBCPS' top priority there is an obligation to leave "no stone unturned" when it comes to providing the safest school environments possible.

"I am thankful we have such capable and willing community partners to aid in this work and share their expertise. I have full confidence in this panel's collective ability to bring forward innovative recommendations and practices to implement in our schools," Spence said.

Officers from Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana, representatives from the Virginia Beach Police Department, and staff members from the City of Virginia Beach's Child and Youth Services Division will be on the panel. They will work with principals and staff members from the school division's offices of Safety and Loss Control and Student Support Services to review security practices.

Panel members will work to answer three main questions:

  • What are the division's current best practices?
  • What division and community resources can be deployed in other ways to strengthen this work?
  • What gaps exist that need to be addressed, either in processes or assets (e.g., personnel, security equipment)?

The panel will meet and work through June, with the tentative goal of providing a report of findings and recommendations for the School Board at the its annual retreat in July.

School administrators already made strides in upgrading security for the 2018-2019 academic year. Funds have been identified that will allow a buzz-in locking system at every school and center beginning this year.

The Virginia Beach City Public Schools' website has information about security and safety measures that already are in place.

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