CHAPEL HILL – It seems like school violence keeps happening more frequently in the United States. In an effort to help keep our local schools and students safer, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools has commissioned an outside security consultant to review its policies and procedures.

Despite the increased security put in place in schools nationwide in response to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, an article released this week by the Associated Press found that there has not been a significant reduction in the number of U.S. school shootings.

“When something happens somewhere else, we are thinking about how we would prevent it, or how could we prevent it? [School safety] is always on your mind, especially with more school shootings happening. It is not even just school-based, they are in community places,” said Jeff Reilly, Coordinator of Student Services for CHCCS and Chair of the Superintendent Safety Council.

The AP’s analysis found that there have been at least 11 school shootings this academic year. There have been about 500 school-associated violent deaths in the past 20 years, not accounting for recent shootings at colleges and universities.

“One of the things that we have talked about doing is having some assessments done of the schools and of the district. That is one of the priorities we have had for the past year,” Reilly said.

This month, safety consultant Michael Dorn, of Safe Havens International, and his team are working with CHCCS to improve its crisis preparedness and campus safety. Reilly said the cost for these services is just under $37,000. The group will produce a preliminary report of its findings in about a month.

Safe Havens International worked with Orange County Schools in 2013

“We are going to a have some analysts come through over the next couple of weeks and walk through each of our schools, review of practices, our emergency operations plans, talk with staff and do a survey of each school,” Reilly said.

These efforts are part of the continued work of Superintendent’s Safety Council, which was created last spring. It is a collaboration across the school system and also with the Chapel Hill Police Department and the Carrboro Police Department.

The Council meets regularly with Carrboro Police Chief Walter Horton and Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue.