Midway Independent School District will be spending up to $100,000 by next school year to upgrade security measures at several schools in the wake of a Florida school shooting last month that left 17 dead. Rumors also circulated in the days after the Florida shooting of a threat against a Midway school, but officials determined the rumors were unfounded.
Some Midway schools already require visitors to be buzzed in electronically to enter school buildings, and the security measure will soon be in place districtwide, Midway ISD spokeswoman Traci Marlin said.
Every school already has a double set of front doors with the inside set locked to anyone trying to get in, but the process for unlocking the doors after a visitor checks in is not consistent at every school, Marlin said. Getting the buzzer system in place will require changes to the layout of some schools’ entryways.
The district is also considering adding another armed school resource officer to its group of four, Marlin said.
Midway ISD board members and Superintendent George Kazanas discussed the security upgrades during a school board meeting Tuesday night.
“The board of trustees has been very supportive of our safety and security efforts,” Kazanas told a council of teachers Thursday afternoon. “They are focused, asking ‘What else can we do?’ ”
The decision also comes less than a week after more than 300 Midway High School students joined tens of thousands of others in a national school walkout to protest for more gun control legislation. Students who remained inside during the protest filled out campus safety surveys to help district officials evaluate concerns.
More than 90 percent of Midway students who took the surveys said they felt safe at school, which is what district officials expected to hear, Marlin said.
“Had that been 50 percent, then we would know we’re not getting the job done,” she said.
More detailed survey results were not available Thursday.
The upgrades are also the next move since Kazanas sent a letter home to parents about a possible increase in safety measures on Feb. 23, the day after Midway Middle School students reported overhearing another student make a threat to harm others on campus. Officials determined the student was talking about a specific conflict, not making a general threat against the school.
“Even though Midway ISD has comprehensive plans in place to mitigate, prepare for, and respond to emergency situations, one can never be fully prepared for a crisis since each one can be so unpredictable,” Kazanas wrote in the letter.
The district also has more than 700 surveillance cameras in its schools and has a system in place to make sure the cameras are regularly upgraded to provide clearer digital images and sound, Marlin said.
“Upgrades are already underway. Larger things are being discussed,” Marlin said. “Some things may take until next school year to get in place, but we’re beginning immediately this spring.”