BEEVILLE – Recently, the Beeville Independent School District board designated $1 million to improve school security.
At its meeting on Oct. 15, Deputy Superintendent Erasmo Rodriguez and district architect David Brown outlined suggestions on how to juggle the three issues of security, inconvenience and price.
“There’s some marvelous ways to spend a great deal of money, and not get anything out of it,” Brown told the trustees.
In a 33-slide presentation, Brown summarized how the various district schools handle security and how it could be improved, noting that “trying to manage and control security on an active school campus is a very, very difficult job.”
The basic problem, he said, was that many BISD schools were designed in the 1950s with an open-door philosophy.
Trying to formulate plans to improve security is impossible, he said, unless you research the circulation patterns, how people are moving around the campus.
“Right now, your schools are wide open to the world,” he warned.
Brown and Rodriguez, he explains, were trying to “come up with a plan that accomplishes some things and that spends money meaningfully, knowing there is no perfect solution.”
In researching the presentation, the pair visited with each BISD campus principal to learn what security system was in place and how it operates.
The fundamental target for improvement is restricting school access, he explained, adding that “this does not need to be a prohibitively expensive proposition.”
Brown acknowledged that on all campuses almost all the doors are locked once school starts. On one campus, he noted, the main entry doors were equipped with magnetic locks triggered by a button in the office, “but no one there knew what it did.”
After outlining the weaknesses of each campus, Brown said the objective of his suggested improvements are to deter, detect and delay an intruder.
Primarily, Brown suggests installing card-entry systems at each campus and, in a few buildings, constructing additional vestibules for a two-tier system by which a person entering a school must encounter two separate security doors before gaining entrance into the campus.
It is easiest to install enhanced security in elementary schools, but the complexity of the task increases at middle and high schools.
“Don’t even bring up the question of bulletproof glass,” Brown warned, “you don’t have that kind of money.”
Another key factor, Brown stressed, is that “parents have to be on board, because increased security can reality irritate them. They have to understand these measures are for their children’s safety.”
Brown and Rodriguez plan to revisit each school principal with the PowerPoint presentation before Brown makes a formal proposal to the board.
Bill Clough is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or at beepic@mySouTex.com.