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Virginia Budget Sets Aside Funding For School Safety Improvements

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Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's School and Campus Safety Task Force plans to announce its first set of recommendations by Jan. 31. The members have been examining security at the state's nearly 2,200 public schools. 

McDonnell told committee members that they should provide their best safety proposals and that he had informed lawmakers that he set aside funds to help pay for them.

"I left a fair amount of money in the bottom line -- about $33 million -- which is a lot of money compared to the $5 million that's usually left," McDonnell said. "And I put in the cover letter that I would ask them to reserve some of that money until your interim report was made at the end of January. And if we had some recommendations that would cost money that I would like them to reserve some of that money for this purpose."

The task force learned through its study that 94 percent of schools in the state have practiced lockdown drills. Twenty-four percent of elementary schools, 85 percent of middle schools, and 87 percent of high schools have resource officers that help provide security services. 

More than 50 percent of schools have a controlled access system to keep out intruders and 73 percent lock exterior doors during school hours. The state had already beefed up school security measures after the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 and offers hundreds of training opportunities. 

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