State Superintendent Mark Johnson explains proposals to improve school security

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GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- There are millions upon millions of dollars available to make schools in North Carolina safer.

That includes upgrades to buildings, classrooms and security inside. However, State Superintendent Mark Johnson explained it will take time to get done.

“We are not going to change the trajectory we are on if we continue to only be reactive,” he said on Friday, just 24 hours after the horrific school shooting in California.

He said the state has proposed grants to help increase security on school campuses, but the budget battle is holding up the approval of the needed money.

As they feud, the state superintendent has introduced an app called “Say Something.”

Students can report possible threats to trained professionals by using their cellphones and can do so anonymously.

“It can be warning signs that someone might be going through a difficult time, might be suicidal ... if they’re going through a tough time and might be suicidal, they may do something terrible at schools, or hurt themselves,” he said.

He believes the app will help prevent major events or even occasional fights in the hallways. The idea is to “have students be part of the school safety solution.”

As lawmakers discuss a budget, some school districts are creating their own programs.

Just this week Guilford County Schools became one of the first in the state to announce a loss prevention innovative.

“It’s a little bit of extra work for the people in the school building,” Johnson said. “We are so grateful for those who volunteer to be on these threat assessment teams.”

The Guilford County superintendent will appoint a team to make sure staff and students are teaching and learning in a safe environment.

As for other security improvements, Johnson says there’s no timeline for Triad schools.

“We’ve gotten millions upon millions of dollars to give out in state grants to schools that need that extra support to get in the devices like more cameras, or to put up property fencing to make sure visitors go through the entrance and they can’t just wander around campus,” he said.

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