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VISD adds campus security in wake of Newtown shootings

By BY CAROLINA ASTRAIN - CASTRAIN@VICAD.COM
Feb. 20, 2013 at 7:01 p.m.
Updated Feb. 20, 2013 at 8:21 p.m.

Monica Torres

IN OTHER BUSINESS

The Victoria school district board is also expected to discuss and take action on an early voting polling location switch.

The agenda item proposes changing their usual polling location from 111 N. Glass St., which they've used for the past 20 years, to the Dr. Pattie Dodson Public Health Center, 2805 N. Navarro St.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Victoria school district board regular monthly meeting

WHEN: 6 p.m. Thursday

WHERE: Education Board Room, VISD Administration Building, 102 Profit Drive

Card readers, additional walls, cameras and peepholes are four new security enhancements that could be coming to a few school campuses over the next few weeks.

Victoria school district Superintendent Robert Jaklich will update the public on these added measures for all elementary school campuses and Howell Middle School, at Thursday's monthly school board meeting.

Shields Elementary School front office clerks Monica R. Torres and Celia Mendoza said they're excited about the changes.

"It's going to be safer not only for the children but for our staff as well," Torres said. "We're not about to see anyone coming by, and with the enhancements that will greatly change."

Shields is one of the three schools the district plans to install four cameras and monitors, allowing an immediate view of visitors entering the building.

The three schools' front offices are in positions where staff members cannot see those visitors.

VISD school board president Tami Keeling said, after the Newtown, Conn. shooting the district came together and inspected potential areas of weakness in security on each campus.

The the safety enhancements are expected to cost $215,524.

"We want the public to know what is going on," Keeling said. "And the superintendent's assessment of our updated safety plan fits within our budget."

Other area school districts have taken other measures to increase security since the Newtown shootings.

The Ganado school district's school board joined other school districts across the state and have allowed certain staff members to carry guns on campus.

Keeling said she personally does not believe the district needs to arm its instructors with guns.

"A teacher's priority should be educating," Keeling said. "I would be for hiring more school resource officers over giving teachers guns."

But the front office clerks said they would be comfortable with a staff member carrying a gun.

"But they should have to have a background test and psychiatric exam," Torres said.

As staff members responsible for controlling the flow of visitors in and out the building, they would be better suited over teachers to have a weapon, Torres said.

"I'm no Wonder Woman or anything," Torres said. "But with the proper training, I'd be willing to learn how to better defend our students."

Juana Villarreal, 20, said she would not want school staff members to carry weapons at her 5-year-old sister's campus.

"The kids could try to take them, thinking they're toys or like what they've seen on TV or video games," Villarreal said. "It would be putting them in more danger."

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