NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – At Tuesday’s joint meeting of the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners and New Hanover County Board of Education, members were provided with an overview of the results of a recent public input survey that solicited feedback on community and school safety.
A total of 2,240 survey responses were received, with 80 percent of respondents saying they felt safe in their neighborhood but less than 17 percent felt all New Hanover County Schools were safe. A complete breakdown of the survey results can be found here.
“We wanted to hear from our community and get an honest response regarding how they felt about where they live and where they send their children to school,” said New Hanover County Manager Chris Coudriet. “The responses we received have reaffirmed previous conversations we’ve had with community leaders, educators, students, families and others in our area about the need for more support to address matters before they become violent. We plan to use this data to help refine what areas we need to address in our current framework and continue to develop strategies for how to help our children and families moving forward.”
The survey, which was open to the public from October 18-November 1, asked a series of questions including how an individual felt about community and school safety, bullying, reporting suspicious activity to authorities and the ability to utilize community programs.
While a majority (80 percent) of respondents felt safe in their respective community, 76 percent said they believed some New Hanover County Schools are safer than others and 65 percent believed there is a problem with bullying in the schools.
“We know how important public feedback and community engagement is to build trust and understanding. That’s why we needed this survey data to fully understand where we are now so we can work to move the right things forward,” said New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman. “Working with established nonprofits to enhance and expand their service, creating a locally manned call center where people can anonymously report threats and social media can be actively monitored, and providing more resources to expand support services and educational opportunities are just some of the things we have identified as needs moving forward.”
The survey is part of ongoing work between New Hanover County Government and New Hanover County Schools to address school and community safety since late August. In addition to the survey, community forums have taken place, student focus groups are being planned for the coming weeks, and community-based meetings continue to be held to gathering important input.
At the November 15 Board of Commissioners meeting, Coudriet shared a four-tiered plan focused on people-centric investments that would be implemented over the next three fiscal years at a cost of $37.1 million. The initial priority investments will be brought before the Board of Commissioners in the coming months for review, discussion and approval, and the plan will continue to be refined and adjusted based on feedback and identified needs.
Learn more about the county’s plans for community and school safety, watch the recent public forums, and view the survey results at NHCgov.com/SchoolSafety.