orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

January 28, 2013

Local schools consider options for improved safety

Tommy Mann Jr.
The Orange Leader

VIDOR — Three Texas lawmakers are planning to introduce legislation to give school districts more options in providing security on campus.

In the meantime, local school districts are already addressing the situation as they see fit.

Sen. John Whitmire, Sen. Tommy Williams and Rep. Dan Huberty recently announced the “Texas School District Security Act.” They say the bill will give districts more options for increased law enforcement and other security measures in schools.

Williams and Huberty are both Republicans, while Whitmire is the Democratic chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. The bill is the latest response to the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children dead.

Another shooting, this one at the Lone Star College campus in north Harris County, is closer to home for many area superintendents who have the weight of the district’s students on their shoulders.

The Vidor Independent School District and Bridge City Independent School District each have their own respective police departments. Vidor ISD has seven campuses but only four officers, while Bridge City ISD has two officers and four campuses.

“We are contracting out with city police officers and will have one at each of our three elementary campuses,” said Dr. Jay Killgo, Vidor ISD superintendent. “We’ve got an officer on every campus now.”

Killgo said the district will hold a special meeting on Monday, Feb. 4 to address more concerns regarding safety issues at the Vidor ISD campuses and what can be done to improve safety.

“People are going to start seeing differences very soon,” Killgo added. “We are going to take greater measures to secure our campuses and people will start seeing that very soon.”

Mike King, superintendent of Bridge City ISD, said his district is considering all options before making a decisive course of action, which may or may not include considering the use of armed law enforcement.

“We are being proactive and are looking at all of our options,” King said. “We’ve reassessed our safety plans at all campuses and we’ve found some ways to improve.’

King said one option is to make the district’s intermediate school, middle school and high school safer by redesigning entrance points.

“Bridge City Elementary is our newest school and it was designed exactly with that in mind,” King explained. “We could possibly redesign the entrance points at our other campuses to make them safer. The Board of Trustees and I are in discussions on other ways to make our campuses more secure and manageable. We will definitely be more diligent.”

The West Orange-Cove Consolidated Independent School District uses off-duty, armed officers as needed for special events, all athletic events and throughout the day at West Orange-Stark High School.

Other local school districts utilize officers and security as needed for sporting events and school functions as well.