Pflugerville school officials say safety top priority

·3 min read
Security upgrades such as fencing around campuses and increased safety within secured vestibules is expected for the upcoming year at Pflugerville schools.
Security upgrades such as fencing around campuses and increased safety within secured vestibules is expected for the upcoming year at Pflugerville schools.

In the wake of the Uvalde shooting, Pflugerville school district officials said they are committed to making sure campuses are as safe as possible.

"Some of the upgrades we expect to be worked on for the upcoming year include fencing around some campuses and increased safety within the secure vestibules at the front of all campuses," said district spokesperson Tamra Spence. The projects were part of the $8.6 million approved by voters in a 2018 bond package.

She said the district has other security upgrades planned that it cannot share for security reasons.

"We remain 100% committed to the safety and security of our students and staff, and we appreciate your support and partnership," Superintendent Doug Killian said in an email sent to parents last week detailing the district's current and new protocols. "We reiterate that safety is our top priority and it is. It is our highest purpose, and we spend time, money and resources every year to make our schools safe as possible."

The district has secure front entry vestibules that parents andother visitors must go through before gaining entry into the school, Killian said in the email. Additionally, all staff members and all middle school and high school students are required to wear badges to help with identification.

Jennifer Chindarkar, a parent in the school district,said her biggest worry is that there are not enough officers on campus. She thinks the district should have a bigger police presence on campus to give students and staff a bettersense of security.

The district currently has 27 police officers who conduct safety checks of campuses routinely, according to the department's directory. Additionally, the district's Police Department is supported by the city's Police Department.

For the new school year, the district will continue to require that all classroom doors close properly and arelockedat all times, officials said. The district also will conduct random checks to ensure that teacherskeepall classroomdoors locked and willconduct daily sweeps of all exterior doors to make sure they are secure and not propped open, according to an email sent to parents.

Drills, trainings and protocols

According to the district's website, safety protocols to address shootings and other catastrophes have been in place for years. They include a standard response protocol and emergency drills for various scenarios, such as an active threat, a bomb threat anda shelter-in-place order.

Additionally, the district's in-house Police Department conducted an active attack training from Aug. 2-4. Participating agencies included the the Pflugerville Police Department, the Pflugerville Fire Department, the Travis County constable's office Precinct #2 and Allegiance Mobile Health.

"PfISD has had a working partnership with local law enforcement agencies and first responders, and our police officers have participated in coordinated trainings such as this for the past 10 years to better respond to any critical incident within our schools and Pflugerville community," Spencesaid when the training was announced.

Leslie Barrow, a parent of four in the school district, said she is worried about the negative impact active-shooter drills may have on students.

"I think we need to be really careful with how these drills are conducted because there is potential to negatively impact psychological well-being," Barrow said. "My hope is that PfISD consults with school-based mental health professionals before making these kinds of decisions."

Council Member Rudy Metayer, the father of twochildren in Pflugerville schools, said the active attack training is vital for the district to have so every entity knows their roles and responsibility in case of an attack.

"Our law enforcement groups should be working with one another, for a regional response, to get these things accomplished," Metayer said.

District staff and officers attended a standard reunification method training in the summer, an essential in place for students and parents in case of a crisis or emergency, according to the email sentto parents.

As a parent, Metayer said the most important thing for the district to do is inform its parents and teachers of new safety measures and protocols that are being put in place to help prepare for the worst.

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Pflugerville school officials say safety top priority