Public safety group makes security suggestions for Mansfield ISD

Mansfield ISD is the latest school district to discuss new school safety policies following the shootings in Florida and Texas earlier this year.

Mansfield started with a committee of students, staff, parents and community members to come up with recommendations. They were presented to the school board on Tuesday night.

The Mansfield ISD superintendent says he feels confident in the suggestions and is proud that Mansfield seems to be ahead of the curve on the issue.

After the Parkland High School shooting in Florida on Valentine's Day, Superintendent Jim Vaszauskas visited each of his campuses and started getting suggestions on what security changes could be made to make schools safer. He then led community meetings to get parent feedback and formed a public safety committee made up of students, parents, staff and community members to evaluate the recommendations.

The group came up with 13 methods they hope to implement as soon as possible. They include things like armed Mansfield ISD officers stationed at each school, pepper spray for staff, security cameras and locking devices on school entrances, and an emergency alert communication system to send alerts and report threats.

There are methods that don't cost anything, like implementing an anti-bullying program, a student threat assessment program and a safety advisory committee. Some of the plans mirror proposals Governor Greg Abbott made last week to improve school safety statewide.

The total cost of all of the proposals is almost $3 million. The superintendent says you cannot put a price on the safety of kids.

"We've got to put an armed guard on every campus. It's too important,” Vaszauskas said. “Everybody wants our kids safer, and this is what our community is recommending to the board. It'll be my recommendation that the board accepts the recommendation of the committee. Hopefully, we will."

The suggestions were presented to the board on Tuesday but will have to pass a vote from the board two weeks from now. The goal is to have most of the changes in place by next school year.

The superintendent says the recent Santa Fe shooting in Texas just reenergized his commitment to the process and to making security changes.

The district put officers on each campus immediately following the latest shooting. Moving forward, they hope to maintain that.