Austin ISD to hire more police officers, update security system

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Independent School District will hire five more police officers in its next budget. Superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz told parents and staff about the changes in a “Dear Austin ISD Community” letter sent out Thursday. 

In the new fiscal year, the district will also upgrade the Raptor safety check system, add another emergency manager to staff, a system to track students who ride the bus, and more call boxes and camera at all high schools and middle schools.

Currently, one school resource officer spends his time between Mendez Middle School and five other schools says Robert Kibbie, Mendez PTA president. He says he’s always been worried about it. 

“The number one thing I think of is all the school shootings that happen at other places. I want to make sure that we have enough safety where god forbid anything does happen — something can happen real quick,” Kibbie says.

He’s happy the district will look to add five more police officers to the force and another emergency management staffer.  “I think that more than five is important, but five’s a start.”

AISD recently hired their new police chief, Ashley Gonzalez, who comes to the post as school safety is a priority.

“I’m glad to see that more people are coming together and contributing and giving thoughts on it,” said Chief Gonzalez earlier in June at a press conference.

Look for more debate on this action plan as the school board works to finalize the next budget.

Dr. Paul Cruz, wrote in the letter to parents, “We will continue to work together with our students, families, staff, community and law enforcement partners to create campuses that not only are safe, but that make our students feel safe.”

In a recent survey of AISD students, 87 percent of them say they feel safe at school. 

According to district officials, $26.6 million of the 2017 bond was slated for life safety and police equipment updates across the district. These upgrades include security cameras, system upgrades, updates for fire alarms, as well as radio and dispatch updates.

After Gov. Greg Abbott’s roundtables on school safety, they’ll also use a $4.7 million grant from his office to add mental health centers in 22 elementary schools.

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