Brenham ISD’s school safety measures were a key topic of discussion during Tuesday’s Brenham School Board meeting.
Health and Safety Director Jamie Woodall told trustees that the school district has spent much time researching what the key factors are for protecting students and staff. She said the top five are early detection of social emotional learning needs, consistent individual identification of people who are on campus, effective perimeter and access control, communication and district-specific education and training.
Woodall said whatever procedures and upgrades the district makes, it is important that they allow schools to remain an enjoyable experience for students and teachers while also keeping them safe.
Woodall emphasized that every avenue being explored focuses on needs specific to each campus and department, as well as the district and the community as a whole, and whether those possibilities are viable and effective.
Woodall said conversations are ongoing to determine the feasibility of armed officials, either uniformed officers or campus monitors, on campuses. Board President Natalie Lange said it is “a priority for the district” to have an armed, trained person at every school.
Chuck Thornton, a “semi-retired” veteran, said there may not be a single answer to make schools safer, but he and others are willing to volunteer to stand watch at elementary campuses if needed.
Superintendent Dr. Tylor Chaplin said Brenham ISD is “looking at this animal from every direction we can look at it” to try to maximize school safety, and that it is “doing our darndest to prepare for every possible thing from every angle.”
After discussion, the board approved the purchase of Nightlock Lockdown low-profile floor pits for $49,950 to place on doors with hallway access.
Also on Tuesday, the board:
- Took no action on purchasing the Panorama program. Superintendent Dr. Tylor Chaplin said the district researched the program as a way to pull student databases together to gain information and track social-emotional data. The Panorama website describes the program as one that “helps educators act on data to improve student outcomes in social-emotional learning, school climate, family engagement, MTSS and more.” Chaplin said as the district presented the program to administrators, counselors and special education officials, it realized those groups “were not happy with this” and did not feel the program would accomplish “what we needed it to do.” The decision to take no action came after several members of the public spoke against approving the program.
- Approved conducting a structural assessment of Brenham Junior High School through Gessner Engineering at an initial cost of $41,500. Facilities and Maintenance Director Paul Aschenbeck said the assessment will primarily look at areas on the west side of the campus that are underground, like the gym and auditorium. An assessment was performed by the Texas Association of School Board in 2019, but Board President Natalie Lange said the amount of changes in the building since then have been “tremendous”.
- Approved purchasing up to two vehicles for the CTE Department at a cost not to exceed $80,000 and one vehicle for the Special Education Department for no more than $50,000. Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services Clay Gillentine said the funds will be used to purchase a passenger van for both departments. If there are CTE funds remaining after the purchase of the van, they would go toward the purchase of a heavy-duty truck.