Garland ISD spending $36M on school security upgrades

Garland ISD says it's spending tens of millions of dollars to upgrade school security.

The upgrades will include adding cameras, upgrading the PA system and securing entries. They were announced during a meeting with parents Wednesday night and have been in the works for a while.

It's events like what happened in Parkland, Florida, and some incidents closer to home that have brought conversations on school security to the forefront.

“As parents, we drop them off at school knowing they're going to be in safe hands,” said Jason Smith. “And there's nothing worse than hearing about these stories where something happens to your kids at school.”

But Garland ISD says they've been discussing school security for years and met with parents for the second time this year to talk about it.

“We think in terms of ‘What happens if somebody tries to bring a weapon in the school? How do we stop that?’” said Garland ISD Director of Security Pat Lamb.

In February, a student brought a gun to South Garland High School just a day after the Parkland shooting. Less than two weeks later, a teen was found with a nine-millimeter semi-automatic rifle, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and a mask in the parking lot near Rowlett High School.

District officials say they review their security plans constantly, especially when events like those happen.

As a part of their 2014 program, Garland ISD is adding roughly $36 million in security upgrades. They will include a thousand new cameras inside and outside of every school and upgrades to existing cameras.

“From our security office, if we see something on our 3,500 cameras that doesn't look right, we can pick up the phone and talk into the school in the PA,” Lamb said.

Telephone and PA systems will also be able to broadcast messages in any district building remotely. There will be vestibules to properly screen visitors before entering the building and door contacts to alert staff if doors are propped open for too long.

“Can we prevent all violence? We can prepare for it. We can respond to it. We can be trained in those regards,” Lamb said.

Garland ISD will have another security meeting with parents on April 19. The enhancements are expected to be complete by 2019.