County manager discusses school safety plans after New Hanover High shooting

NEW HANOVER COUNTY (WWAY) — New Hanover County Commissioners continued their conversation on preventing violence in schools in their meeting Monday morning.

New Hanover County Manager Chris Coudriet said discussions are underway to make schools safer by solving problems within the community first. This would mean potentially bypassing some traditional options, but not ruling them out.

“Metal detectors, fencing, those kinds of things,” Coudriet said, “I think Judge Corpening was very clear. Those solutions would have moved the problem slightly within the space that it occurred. But it was not preventative in and of itself.”

Still researching options and meeting with community leaders, teachers, parents, and non-profits, Coudriet and staff are reviewing a school system safety audit.

“We’ve got to go to the security audit and make sure we’re funding the things in the mid-21st century that work for mid-21st century risk,” Coudriet continued.

This came after a shooting at New Hanover High School led commissioners to approve spending up to $350 million to address violence in schools and the community.

Changes coming in the near future will involve building safety, improved communications amongst staff and to parents, and updated technology to identify a crisis in its early stages.

Coudriet explained, “There have to be though technologies and people that are taking awareness of what’s happening around a school, what’s happening with our students.”

Coudriet said the day of the shooting a few people knew something would happen on campus before it happened. He believes the proposed changes would go a long way to keep students safe. He hopes to make some of these changes official soon.

“I suspect in just the course of the next couple of weeks. The group that was assembled will be back together to now begin to actually put pen to paper about what these investments will look like.”

Commissioner Jonathan Barfield end the meeting commenting though dozens of community members met several weeks ago to discuss community safety, he and Superintendent Charles Foust were the only people of color at the table. He hopes staff will be conscientious in bringing in men and women of different backgrounds and races to the decision making process.

There are no specifics yet on how the $350 million will be used or what exactly will take place to address gun violence in the community or schools.

This is a story we will continue to follow and bring you updates.

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