Five parents addressed the Leander ISD board of trustees at its regular meeting Dec. 20, urging for more secure campuses following the shooting of 20 children and six adults Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Mike Precher, a Cedar Park father of two children, said the event in Connecticut swayed him to discuss how dangerously easy he feels it is to access campus entrances, especially at Naumann Elementary School.
“My main point in speaking out is to encourage you to look at what’s out there, and come up with things that delay or deny access to the school,” Precher said. “With the events that occurred, it’s now apparent to everybody that there are soft targets like elementary schools, and if you want to do something bad to get some attention, this is where you can go.”
Some parents asked why the $1.5 million allocated for campus security upgrades in the 2007 bond package has not been put to use. Superintendent Bret Champion said the funds were scheduled to be released in 2011, but the district avoided all bond sales in 2011 and 2012 because of the economic downturn.
“My recommendation is to include the $1.5 million and roll it forward to the 2013 bond sale,” Champion said.
Along with the $1.5 million already allocated for security upgrades, Champion said staff will consider using additional unsold bond money intended for other projects to fund security upgrades.
School board President Pamela Waggoner said the board will need to understand and approve funding of any additional security upgrades. In all, at least 15 campuses are being considered for changes, staff said.
“If we are talking about retrofitting and redoing elementary schools or any school, other monies are having to come in,” Waggoner said. “That can be from another bond package, from not opening up another elementary school or something like that, but it has to come from somewhere.”
Board members discussed an array of short- and long-term measures designed to make campuses safer, including architectural changes to limit access to entrances and adding a district-hired police force. Champion said the staff will bring their research and recommendations to the board during the next several months.
In the week following the shooting, Champion said he met with principals and staff to identify and remedy immediate safety concerns. The district responded publicly the day of the shooting and is pursuing an external audit of their current safety plan, he said.