Texas High School to Spend over $1M on Security After Mass Shooting

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

The Santa Fe Independent School District will spend more than $1 million on security at their lone high school, the site of the May 18 mass shooting that killed eight students, two teachers, and wounded 13 others.

On Tuesday night, the board of trustees voted to direct $1,050,000 on a series of security upgrades at Santa Fe High School. This includes panic buttons, interior classroom door locks, a front entry way remodel, field house modifications, and bullet-resistant window glass on the main office and the northwest side of the school where most of the shooting happened during the tragic attack.

The school district will also re-purpose a dance studio into counseling offices and conference room spaces, relocate several classrooms, and reconfigure other vulnerable indoor areas for enhanced safety.

According to documentation Santa Fe ISD provided to Breitbart Texas, the panic button system will cost $650,000. It is part of an alarm system overhaul that will work “congruently with the upgraded fire alarm system” and replace the original PA system. The school was built in 1999.

Interior door locks for roughly 160 classrooms are budgeted at $150,000. A remodeled security-minded front entrance costing $250,000 will redirect the flow of traffic.

While many of the updated security fixes are slated to be completed by August 20 when students return to campus, some, like the new entrance, may take longer to complete. According to the school district, they will make every effort to reach the deadline date but some of this work can be finished during evening hours if necessary.

Originally, the budget allocated a total of $1,230,000 for the security enhancements that also included a campus perimeter fence, but trustees did not approve the $180,000 expenditure. They indicated it was more likely they would propose adding automatic driving gates in the future.

Metal detectors were not on the school board’s agenda, even though many of the high school’s parents voiced a strong desire in having them installed. During the meeting, J.R. “Rusty” Norman, the school board president, said trustees may still vote on this item at their next meeting, according to the Houston Chronicle. He said a 32-personal safety and security committee will discuss whether or not to advise the board to incorporate the use of metal detectors into the overall safety plan at a closed meeting on Thursday. Then, they will present their recommendations to trustees at a special meeting next Monday.

At the meeting, some parents voiced frustration that Santa Fe ISD had not yet accepted the 10 metal detectors Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick recently pledged to the school district.

Breitbart Texas reported that Patrick also announced the state Senate will institute a “matching fund program” for all schools that want to install metal detectors or wands when lawmakers reconvene in January for the 2019 legislative session. “Schools that install detectors or buy wands before the next session can be reimbursed retroactively through the match program,” said the Lt. Governor.

Previously, U.S. Education Department awarded Santa Fe ISD a $1 million Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) grant to help fund “healing and recovery” supports. U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said the grant gave Santa Fe ISD the funding it needed following the traumatic May massacre to reestablish a safe environment for students.

At the time, Santa Fe ISD spokeswoman Patti Hanssard said they planned to use the $1 million in grant money to “improve and implement our current safety plan” and “integrate additional mental health/counseling support.”

On Wednesday, Hanssard clarified that the safety upgrades trustees approved on Tuesday were independent items and not part of the federal grant. She told Breitbart Texas by email, “The security improvements the Board approved last night will come directly from the fund balance. None of the improvements will be funded through the (SERV) grant.”

Follow Merrill Hope, a member of the original Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter.


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