The Mansfield school district could hire private contractors or partner with law enforcement agencies to ensure there’s a police presence at every campus next school year.
These armed officers would supplement the school district’s existing police force in light of recent school shootings across the country.
“This is the fastest response, having an officer at every campus, it is a large deterrent,” said Jeff Brogden, associate superintendent of facilities and bond programs. “It is a highly trained response.”
The district has school resource officers stationed at every high school and middle school campus every school day. For the elementary and intermediate schools, the officers are on a rotation schedule. This plan would fill in the gaps so every campus has an officer present during school hours.
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But it won’t come cheap — the district estimates it could cost up to $2.3 million a year. Brogden told the school board that the cost could come down if the district is able to partner with police in Mansfield, Grand Prairie and Arlington plus the Tarrant County sheriffs and constables.
The district will continue those discussions before presenting the final cost at the June 26 board meeting.
The Mansfield school district used officers from several agencies to cover every campus for the final two days of school.
The Joshua school district will also station officers at every campus starting this fall. Southlake announced it will spend $500,000 to install new safety and security initiatives in Carroll schools. Southlake already partners with Carroll ISD to put a city police officer at every campus.
Gov. Greg Abbott unveiled a 40-point plan for school safety that includes many of the items Mansfield and other districts are already doing.
For Mansfield ISD, Brogden added that contracting with private agencies or using existing law enforcement officers allows the district to have this put in place much faster than hiring additional MISD police officers.
Trustee Raul Gonzalez said Mansfield school district already has an advantage over most area districts.
“We’re very blessed that we already have a [police department] in Mansfield ISD,” Gonzalez said. “A lot of school districts don’t so they’re having to start from scratch.”
Adding officers to every campus was just one of many ideas to come out of the district’s School Safety Committee, which included a mix of students, parents and staff. The group met three times to discuss ways to make the school district safer after the rash of school violence that included the shooting at Santa Fe High School outside Houston.
Other recommendations included providing teachers with pepper spray, which would be kept in a locked safe in the classroom. The cost would be $450,490.
“This is an effective use that does not have long-lasting effects,” Brogden said. “This is providing our teachers with an additional means to put up resistance. This is not for the teacher to go out and confront anyone.”
Every campus could get more secure front doors with cameras and speakers that would lock from the start of school until the end of school. The $117,600 project could be added to security upgrades that are already part of the 2017 bond package.
Another consideration would give school administrators the ability to notify every computer and mobile device in the building of a potential threat in seconds. The software costs $51,300 and would also allow for anonymous reporting of bullying.
The district is also considering requiring teachers to lock all doors during class--something that can already be done at no cost to the district.
While most of these initiatives keep children safe when a threat arises, Mansfield ISD also wants to prevent these tragedies from ever happening.
The district could add social media monitoring for $15,000 that would use current technology to monitor Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites for potential threats.
“This is something from a proactive standpoint that we can use in order to address the situation prior to it happening,” said Donald Williams, associate superintendent of communications and marketing. “That’s where we’re at. When you think in terms of the way our students are communicating with one another, when you think of we function as a society, social media is at the heart of a lot of the ways our students and parents communicate.”
Oftentimes, it’s found that students who commit mass shootings at schools were driven to it after being bullied. The district is considering an anti-bullying and relationship program that could encourage healthy dialogues and friendships. It would cost an estimated $25,000 but the district plans to seek donations and grants to pay for it.
Trustee Randall Canedy spent a dozen years volunteering for the Mansfield ISD Education Foundation and suggested looking to area businesses for support with the anti-bullying program.
“This is an extremely important issue that we’re all facing currently,” Canedy said. “I think this would be an opportunity for the corporate community to help support some of these initiatives.”
The Education Foundation accepts donations and grants from area businesses and individuals for projects that weren’t funded in the school’s budget.
The foundation will discuss the anti-bullying program at the next board meeting, Williams said.
“That’s definitely something we’re looking at,” he said.