Safety and security at schools across the country became a concern for parents and teachers in the wake of the events in Newtown, Conn., in December, when a lone gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary and killed 20 children and six adults and then himself.Weatherford ISD was no different. But it wasn’t only the threat of outsiders that caused the district to focus on it, it had been a topic of more than a year’s worth of discussion.In May, voters will weigh in on a $107.32 million bond election that, if passed, will address several issues including safety and security, building capacity, capital improvements and technology.If approved by voters, 68 percent of the monies would be used to address safety and security and capacity issues. Though Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Hanks stressed that all children are safe while in school, he admitted that the shooting in December caused parents and administration to look at access to campuses more stringently."We do a great job of keeping our kiddos safe but we could be doing a lot better, " Hanks said at a recent community meeting.If passed, the bond would allow for campuses to be reconfigured to include a security vestibule at the front entrance of each school that restricts access to the student areas until visitors have checked in at the main office. Only after a proper driver's license check has been completed and verified will anyone be allowed to enter the heart of the school.Also, more security cameras will be added to campuses and an interface with the Weatherford Police Department would allow them to see what is going on inside the building should it be needed. Additionally, fencing will be added to campuses that currently have little or none at all.Grant Priess, Executive Director of Operations, Safety and Security for WISD, said in addition to all of that, one of the main issues addressed is student travel between campuses for various athletic and extra-curricular activities, as well as instruction.“We have too many kids traveling back and forth to different campuses,” Priess said. “A good example is from the Ninth Grade Center to the high school and we even have sixth grade band that goes to the middle schools.”Priess said there is an average of about 29 bus shuttles a day, adding up to about 75,000 student trips per school year on shuttle buses. Costs for the buses is about $100,000 per year but it’s accidents that are more of a concern.“That’s an issue; we have had bus accidents, not many but a few, during those bus shuttles,” he said. “Plus, there is loss of instruction time and we also have students who drive their own vehicles from campus to campus to get to different programs they are getting to and we’ve had accidents in that regard as well. That is a huge issue.”A new 78,000 square-foot academic wing would be built at Weatherford High School for ninth graders. This would eliminate the need for students to be transported back and forth from the Ninth Grade Center to the high school to participate in programs like band, athletics and other activities. Other campuses would also be reconfigured and renovated to eliminate much of the need for students to travel.“When you look at the bond and what it reconfigures, students are at their campus basically all day long and they don’t have to travel to other campuses,” Priess said. “That right there clears up a big safety issue.”While Hanks and Priess agree that personnel have become more vigilant about what is going on in and around the campus, Priess said the bond would allow for “great improvement” of already existing safeguards.“The secure vestibules force visitors to the campus to go to the office first. They won’t be able to sneak by into the hallway and bypass the office sign-in process,” Priess said. “We will have better accounting of who is on our campus and it allows for us to control and make sure people are not wandering around and that we do know where they are going and can supervise them.”When it comes to capacity, Hanks said three of WISD's seven elementary schools are at or above 100 percent. To address that, the district would reconfigure those schools to house pre-kindergarten through fourth grade. Two intermediate campuses for fifth and sixth grades would then be housed at Hall and Tison and the Ninth Grade Center would then be Weatherford Middle School, housing seventh and eighth grades.Also to be constructed at the high school would be a new Career and Technology Center that would house popular programs like cosmetology, auto tech, culinary arts, among others."We've seem tremendous growth in these programs over the past few years, " Hanks said. "Not every student is cut out for a two or four-year school and this gives them the technical skills they need to get out into the workforce immediately after graduation."Again, Priess said having everything located in one spot is a big advantage and that he is confident that the measures put in the bond are more than adequate. He did, however, admit that there is no 100 percent guarantee but that the enhancements would certainly help.“I truly believe eliminating the travel should make parents feel a whole lot better and safer about where their kids are going to school,” he said. “The fact that they are in one location all day long without having to travel back and forth and the secure vestibules will greatly enhance and ensure we know who is on campus all day long.”And, he said, things have changed in the 14 years since WISD has had a bond issue. Looking at the current configuration of the schools is evidence of that, Priess said.“The things we are having to look at today were not even a concern [in the past],” he said. “The way we approach it today was not even a concern; look at some of our campuses where the main office is in the center of the building and not the front door. Society has changed; we have to look 10 years from now. These are very positive steps.“I’m excited about it, I really am. I think this is a very positive step forward for the community and the district to ensure that our kids are in an environment that is safe for them.”Impact on WISD taxpayersThe cost to the average homeowner in Weatherford should the $107.32 million bond be approved would be about $15 a month (178.25 annually), based on the average home value in Weatherford of $130,000, less $15,000 homestead exemption.The current tax rate of 1.40 ($1.17 Maintenance and Operations and 23 cents Interest & Sinking) would increase 15.5 cents to $1.555 ($1.17 M&O and .385 cents I&S).Anyone 65 and older who has filed for the over 65 homestead exemption will have their taxes frozen and are not affected by the proposed election.Early voting will be April 29 - May 7, campus satellite voting will be May 2 (at all 11 WISD campuses) and Election Day is May 11.