"I was a little surprised the numbers would be a little higher than some of the statewide averages or district averages," he offered. "But again, I think until you really understand and unpack the data, I don't think you can always react. I think you have to begin to understand why students would make some of the comments they made."
But Becoats said a plan would be put in place to address student concerns.
"What we will be doing - and our staff will be doing - is working with the police department and sheriff department to really begin unpacking that information and have some proactive strategies in place," he said. "I do believe we have to partner with those entities to begin to address those issues and some of the concern."
But student's perceptions of the gang problem is just one of the things weighing on Becoats' mind these days. He's also looking at a school system budget deficit estimated about $12.3 million. Officials estimate they may have to cut about 300 jobs. Becoats said he took some heart from Governor Beverly Perdue's State of the State Address Monday night.
"It was very pleasing that the governor said in her State of the State Address that she would try to protect the classroom and maintain teachers that we currently have in place in the state, so I am very, very hopeful we will be able to do the same," he said.
Becoats said without help from the state, teaching positions are in jeopardy.
"It's not good because that means your class sizes are going to increase in our schools. And when I go visit schools, I'm counting the number of students I see in classrooms and I'm thinking: 'Wow, four more students in a classroom - it's really going to be a challenge,'" he said.