Superintendent column: District focuses on increasing security, safety
As superintendent of schools, it gives me great pride to announce that in working directly with our Board of Trustees and VISD staff, we are moving forward with a $250,000 safety and security initiative that will enhance and strengthen school safety throughout our "612 Square Miles of Excellence." We would like to express our sincere appreciation to our Board of Trustees for its efforts and foresight in addressing the needs of our facilities as it relates to "Every Child, Every Classroom, Every Day."
These monies will come from the $215,000 additional revenue received from the Freeport Tax Exemption, along with the combined contributions from our district, campuses and parent/teacher organizations. The commitment to enhance safety and security in the VISD began this summer with the School Resource Officer (SRO) partnership created by the Victoria County Sheriff's Office. Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor and his staff have been amazing to work with. We have SROs in all of our secondary schools and, additionally, have a sergeant who oversees our school district and is housed at the Liberty campus. We also have 13 full-time security guards in our schools who do a tremendous job of creating a safe learning environment.
Response time for intervention is a No. 1 priority in the VISD, and we are very appreciative to Sheriff O'Connor and Police Chief Craig for having patrols readily available throughout our neighborhoods. Additionally, the sheriff's office has also synchronized its patrols to overlap our county schools and create a quick response time to our rural campuses.
The safety and security initiatives include perimeter card readers that allow for preprogrammed access for employees to enter certain exterior doors on campuses. We are also providing enhancement to communication needs via classroom telephones on specified campuses as well as camera monitoring systems and building access systems to address visitors before entering our schools. These security initiatives were designed to meet the needs of each unique campus and are not intended to serve as a "one size fits all" solution.
There is still much conversation to take place regarding the consideration of placing armed marshals, armed volunteers or armed staff members into our schools that do not currently include School Resource Officers. However, we will continue to hold these conversations and readdress our safety and security on a constant basis. We will also continue our focus on response time to intervention and providing a safe and secure environment for all. By continually working together, we stand ready to address our future challenges with hope, determination and high expectations. Albert Einstein once stated, "We should not try to live our lives as a person of success. We should strive to become a person of value." On behalf of our Board of Trustees and the entire VISD, thank you for the "value" that you bring to our students, staff and community. We truly appreciate your excellence.
Robert Jaklich is the superintendent for the Victoria Independent School District. Contact him at 361-788-9202 or through the VISD website, visd.com.