AISD bond issue is helping upgrade security

Amarillo Independent School District is the largest school district in the Texas Panhandle. So when you talk about security, that means a lot of upgrades for dozens of campuses, especially for those older one. AISD officials said they're doing all things necessary to better protect our kids. In fact, in May 2013 voters gave the thumbs up for AISD's $99.45 million bond issue. That bond is financing a variety of renovations and construction at area schools, including increasing school security.

Because of that construction is becoming a familiar site at schools in Amarillo. At Sleepy Hollow Elementary their old office is being upgraded to create a more secure entrance.

"In the past our office has been the original building our office allowed visitors access to the hallways and classrooms after the new construction is complete when you enter the building you're in the office," said Sleepy Hollow Principal, Doneice Ray.

$8.7 million of that bond is being dedicated to constructing more secure main entrances.

"People would need to buzz to enter the building and then of course when we got the signal that there was a visitor asking to come in then the secretary has a monitor on her desk that she can see who's asking to come in and then talk to them on the PA part of it," said Ray.

An additional $5 million is being used to upgrade video security. Along with electronic security, The Amarillo Police Department has 13 liaison officers that are spread among the districts schools.

"We do the active shooter training. Use to, it was a two day school and you'd send your officer to it. We would get a little more training through our firearms training with it. But what I have changed since the Connecticut deal is we actually do refreshers twice a year now," said Sgt. Jerome Godfrey, Amarillo Police Department.

Besides making Amarillo ISD campuses secure by locking all doors and classroom doors, as well as having lockdown drills, Sgt. Godfrey is working to make other upgrades.

"One thing we're working on is some extra training for the teacher and not only teachers but all staff." However, there are many of these upgrades the district and police department do not want to discuss because of their ongoing efforts to better secure their campuses.

Unlike many area school districts, Amarillo ISD liaison officers do not have patrol cars that sit in front of campuses to deter would be shooters. Sgt. Godfrey said that's one aspect of their upgrades he's working on getting.

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