Brenham ISD has designated $1.4 million to be used for school safety and security improvements.
The Brenham School Board on Monday approved recommitting funding previously set aside in the fund balance for construction to instead use for added perimeter fencing, rekeying interior doors and bringing locks up to current safety code, and exchanging key locks on some exterior doors for card readers.
Brenham ISD Superintendent Dr. Tylor Chaplin said these upgrades alone will take up the $1.4 million in committed funding.
The board’s action came after Jay Huffty, named last month as Brenham ISD’s new director of safety and security, presented an update on the completed and continuing projects around the district.
Huffty said much time has been spent educating staff on safety processes, responding to active attack events, and Stop the Bleed. He said these training efforts have been extensive and will continue in order to ensure everyone knows the stakes.
Projects undertaken include a new guard shack at the entry to the high school, manned by a retired police officer and former Citizen on Patrol. Gates have been moved and reappropriated to areas in need of additional security. A state-mandated audit of all exterior doors in the district was nearly complete on Monday, and Huffty assured it would be done in time for the beginning of school on Wednesday.
The district is also looking at evaluating and purchasing large limestone blocks that will be rebarbed into the concrete of some facilities. Huffty said the blocks can stop cars and are otherwise more aesthetically appropriate than a “six-inch metal tube drilled into the concrete and painted safety yellow.”
Earlier this month, the Brenham City Council approved the addition of a fifth school resource officer (SRO) to rotate around Brenham ISD campuses. The SROs are complemented by off-duty officers who can be paid extra to provide additional protection. When asked by trustee Jared Krenek about the scheduling of off-duty personnel and whether an armed officer would be at every school come the start of classes, Huffty said they will be fully covered “for the next month.”
Speaking on the designation of funds toward school safety, Board President Natalie Lange said the bond that was voted down in May included some of these security measures, adding that they were “not fluff” and “not optional.” Dr. Chaplin said approximately $987,000 in the bond was meant for safety and security, but more was needed, and the improvements needed to be made without waiting on the outcome of the election in November. Board Secretary Susan Jenkins said the district “cannot put a price tag on that.”
After approval, Dr. Chaplin called the decision “a large monetary commitment that is definitely going in the right direction.”