Led by FBISD Police Chief Dave Rider, the district has a 40-member committee that includes students, teachers, security experts and two board trustees, Board President Jason Burdine and Board Secretary David Rosenthal.
The committee focuses on prevention and preparation first and then response, explained Rider.
“No single security measure will solve all the things we want to accomplish. We have a multidisciplinary team,” said Rider, who gave a presentation to the board on all the issues the committee is exploring.
They have four more meetings before they present actual recommendations to the board on what is seen as wants and needs.
Among the issues the committee is exploring:
Staffing: They want to look at increasing personnel to include 11 additional officers for each feeder pattern in the elementary schools. “To decrease response time to elementary schools and allow secondary emergency staff to remain on campus. They don’t want to pull the middle and high school officers off campus.”
Technology: They are exploring some of the recommendations from Gov. Greg Abbott including technology that gives them the ability to identify a threat.
For example, if someone has made a threat to the school, they can use facial recognition technology to show when that person arrives on a campus. “We’re looking at giving students and staff an immediate app to report through their cell phone. Facial recognition software is a preventative measure, others are using. If they express a threat, we can find their face and dispatch help immediately,” said Rider.
Social Issues: With 76,000 students, they understand they need a child abuse investigator as they are conducting interviews at least once a day.
• Fencing around portable classrooms. Looking at where gates can be locked from outside and have crash bars in use to get out.
• Metal detectors and their feasibility, including the time it takes for students to get through them. Ensuring that everyone coming through is screened.
• Door locks to secure classrooms.
• Student ID badges. The mandatory badges could be bar coded to include additional information for students to use in lunch lines, for library books and maybe carry health information.
• Arming staff for personnel already licensed to carry and/or including a school marshal program in place.
All of these issues will be thoroughly discussed before recommendations are made to the board. They have four more meetings before they bring their recommendations.
“The capital outlay in these 13 to 14 items is $8.6 million in funds. Our next step is for the committee to prioritize topics. The FBISD staff will come up with plans and add to the master plan. We are seeing architects implement school safety and we want to be a leader in safety and security in Texas,” Rider said.
Another piece of the security is community awareness called CRASE training, Civilian Response to an Active Shooter Event that the chief would like to see provided to the community.
The chief added that the mental health component is another piece of security and managing threats.
Burdine said he is proud of the chief and he feels good about the direction the committee is headed.
“I have a few concerns about the metal detectors because they are costly, take a few people to man and students who come to school early before school starts are propping open doors, that’s tough to navigate,” said Burdine.
“But when a shooter enters our building, we’ve already lost,” he added. “So whatever we can do; optics, mental health, whatever is needed we will support. Safety first.”