The Killeen school district’s 45,000 students will head back to safer campuses Monday due to security improvements the district enacted over the summer, district officials said Thursday.
Some of the upgrades include electronic door locks at all four regular high school campuses and most elementary schools, buzzer systems that require staff to admit access and security vestibules that provide a physical barrier for campuses.
“The vestibule and buzzer systems represent a significant improvement in safety from potential intruders,” said Superintendent John Craft at a press conference Thursday.
The district also hired three new full-fledged police officers, increasing the size of the KISD police force by 17 percent, according to officials.
With one of the new officers permanently assigned to Shoemaker High School, there will now be three, full-time officers on campus at each of the four traditional high schools in the district.
One of the new officers will be stationed at the Gateway alternative school complex, while another will rotate around various campuses to increase the visible police presence within the district.
KISD is also installing additional student identification badge readers at high school campuses, an ongoing security improvement that will allow the district to keep exterior doors at schools locked, according to officials.
More perimeter fencing and improvements in the school intercom systems are anticipated throughout the school year, as well.
“These improvements harden these buildings,” said KISD Chief Communications Officer Terry Abbott. “Everything we can do to keep an intruder out helps keep kids safe.”
The security upgrades are being funded as part of a $426 million bond approved by Killeen voters earlier this year and will cost an estimated $4.25 million, according to board agenda documents.
“We greatly appreciate the commitment of our parents and community members to safe, high-performing schools across the district,” Craft said of the voter-approved funds that are financing the security improvements.
“The security enhancements we’ve made and are continuing to make will help fortify our schools against the potential access by intruders.”
The Harker Heights Police Department will also be stepping up its presence for the upcoming school year, increasing enforcement in school zones, according to a Aug. 23 press release issued by HHPD Lt. Steve Miller.
The city will be authorizing extra police officers to work enforcement in the Harker Heights school zones during the opening weeks of the academic year, according to department officials.
The increased police presence will include patrol cars, motorcycles, bicycles and officers on foot.
Miller said officers will be on the lookout for drivers who disregard the law and that there are several measures that drivers can take to help keep children safer, including: watching out for student pedestrians while driving in school zones, slowing down and watching for children congregating near bus stops and also being prepared for children to dart into the street without looking for traffic.
“Remember it is illegal to pass any school bus that is stopped and operating a visual signal – either flashing red lights or a stop sign,” Miller said in the press release.
Text messaging or emailing on handheld wireless communication devices on all public roadways is also illegal statewide.
The press release also specified that school zone moving violations fines may also be doubled.
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