School safety is unsurprisingly a topic of concern for parents and lawmakers, given the recent incidents at schools around the country. As Texas lawmakers formulate safety solutions in preparation for the next state legislative session, some parents are questioning why their school districts aren’t enforcing the safety measures already in place.
Video of a recent Goose Creek CISD bond meeting shows parents voicing frustration over the lack of bond dollars being directed towards school safety. GCCISD is less than an hour from Santa Fe ISD, which a few short months ago fell victim to a school shooter, so it’s no surprise that parents and students are concerned about what GCCISD is doing to protect them.
“The last 3 or 4 days of school there was threats that people were going to come and shoot up the school,” said one father in video of the meeting. “Out of all this, there’s $53 million that I’m going to pay for technology, but there’s not one thing in there about security other than updating cameras…”
GCCISD held a bond election three months ago, but voters ostensibly shot down the $437.5 million packagebecause of the district’s unwillingness to consider changes that many taxpayers felt were necessary. The district has now come back to voters to ask for the bond again, attempting to be more attentive to community input.
“I have a very good answer for that,” replied one of the meeting’s moderators. “It’s because we’ve done such a good job with the 2013 bond.”
“I disagree,” the parent continued. “I can walk into any one of these schools at any time. I’ve done it. I’ve also gone into the school to pick my daughter up and the school doesn’t know where she’s at.”
School officials quickly interjected to try and cover for the moderator’s response, but their answer wasn’t much better. An official, who identified himself as a member of the construction department, can be heard saying it was ultimately the individual school’s fault for lack of security, regardless of the resources the district may provide them.
“We provide the equipment for the school but we can’t, we in the construction area anyhow, can’t force the local campus to utilize that equipment,” he said. “We know the gate should be locked and the only way you can get in is through the front door. That’s the way it’s supposed to work.”
The construction official also pointed out that Deputy Superintendent Dr. Anthony Price knows the campuses don’t adhere to safety guidelines, but cannot constantly monitor each individual school’s decisions. “Dr. Price will tell you it doesn’t work that way,” he said. “I’m at a lot of schools. It’s my job and I can see that not all the principals lock the place down. Dr. Price does drills throughout the year and he gives reports back to them on what they’re not doing right, but [it’s up to them] what they do with it; he can’t be there every school day.”
School officials attempted to assure parents that security was a priority to the district, a given especially after such a horrific incident less than 40 miles away. However, the district’s spending doesn’t seem to line up with their statements.
Though officials mentioned the 2013 bond referendum sufficiently funded security, GCCISD’s website shows they only slated $9.6 million of those bond dollars for “security infrastructure improvements” while spending $52 million on technology, $12 million on a career center, and $10 million on a transportation center.
The discussion surrounding increased funding for school safety is permeating every district around the state. But many parents and taxpayers are questioning why more tax dollars should be spent on safety equipment if, as the construction representative claimed, the schools refuse to use it and the administrators seemingly do not hold those campus officials accountable.
“There’s a lot of things that I see day-to-day that are more important to me than the field house and $20 million worth of LED lights,” the frustrated father continued. “I’m more worried about my kid going to school and getting shot at than I am my kindergartener having an iPad.”