Design work to upgrade security features at Leander ISD high schools and middle schools got underway this month. A big part of that project is the construction of a single point of entry for each campus.
A report, which was part of a comprehensive safety review audit completed in 2015, recommended the change. "We want to have open schools, in terms we want people to know, and parents and families to know they can come into our schools, they're built to serve communities and serve families but at the same time we need to have structure and a single point of entry has been a new component to that,” said LISD spokesperson Corey Ryan.
Single point of entries has already been built at LISD elementary schools.
Work was completed last year at a cost of $8-million.
FOX 7 was allowed access to one school to show how lobbies are no longer open.
The interior doors are locked, preventing access to classrooms. Visitors have to check in at the front office and clear a quick screening before doors are unlocked.
After a few seconds the locks automatically activate.
Security upgrades go beyond the front door. Another design feature will allow principals to lock down one section of their school in order to keep a threat from reaching another part of the campus.
"I don’t know what it is exactly going to look like so I don’t want to go into any details because it’s something that is currently being designed, there will be a process for our schools to be locked down, building to building, and that will be part of those safety enhancements,” said Ryan.
Portable classrooms remain a challenge. The design team is having to come up with a plan to monitor and regulate the flow of students coming and going from the main building.
Upgrades to all LISD campuses are to be done by 2022.
Administrators admit it may take some time for students to adjust to all the changes, as well as parents. "With what’s going on in the world it’s just something, it’s a reality that you have to have that level of security in the schools, and anywhere really,” said George Pina.
Pina has two kids attending Leander schools. For him, the attack Wednesday in South Florida, justifies any expenditure to improve safety. Pina understands no plan is fool proof. "No, it can’t, you are never going to stop ever situation, but it’s at least another level of security, layer of security,” said Pina.
Designing and installing new safety features at Leander middle and high schools is estimated to cost just under $18-million. Similar security upgrades have been made to schools in Round Rock ISD.
In response to the shooting in Florida, the police chief at AISD issued a tweet. He stated they are committed to providing a safe and secure learning environment.
He also encouraged students and staff to report any possible security issues.
The superintendent at Eanes ISD sent out an email stating every summer they perform safety drills. It was also noted the district would have counselors at all of Eanes campuses to help any student who may be struggling dealing with the Florida incident.