CHAPEL HILL – In response to recent national tragedies involving school violence, Superintendent Tom Forcella, of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools System, started a new Safety Council charged with keeping our local students safe in the classroom.

Jeff Nash, the district’s Executive Director of Community Relations, says the council met Thursday with Carrboro’s new Police Chief Walter Horton and Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue.

“This spring, the Superintendent started a new Safety Council with the idea of looking at ways that we could make our schools a little bit safer and make sure that we are on the front line of having safe schools,” Nash says.

Nash says this district plans to hold a large scale drill, either on a teacher work day or a Saturday, that would involve both the Chapel Hill and Carrboro Police, and possibly other emergency response teams as well.

“We are sending schematics to both police departments so that they will be able to get through the building quickly if needed,” Nash says.

Another facet of the Superintendent’s Safety Council, Nash explains, is the Risk Assessment of Violence, a program designed for students age 12-18.

“It focuses on risks in adolescents. There are 24 risk items that are derived from research that determine categories of risk. We think that will help on the front end before the problems happen.”

Steps are also being taken to increase safety in schools on a state level. As part of an initiative formed in March by Gov. Pat McCrory, the Center for Safer Schools examines school security programs across the nation and proposes legislation and policy changes here in North Carolina. The program is recommending that every school perform an overall assessment to determine its individual security needs.

Nash says the CHCCS Superintendent Safety Council was formed independent of the state’s program.